Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Madson’

Brad Lidge Has Knee Surgery, Could Miss Opening Day

January 15, 2010

What is it with the National League East and knee surgeries lately?

We have the Carlos Beltran knee surgery fiasco going on right now and now there is another player going under the knife to repair a knee. However, everyone is on the same page with the later surgery.

It will be a while before Lidge celebrates again

According to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Wednesday. This was Lidge’s second surgery of the offseason.

Back in November, Lidge underwent surgery to remove bone fragments from his right elbow. There is a strong possibility that Lidge could miss Opening Day.

If Lidge is not available to start the season, Ryan Madson or newly signed Danys Baez could be in line to get some saves. Madson would be the more logical choice since he filled in for Lidge last season.

If the Phillies are to repeat as NL East champs in 2010, the Phillies are going to need Lidge to have a bounce back season. We all know about Lidge’s disastrous 2009 season and quite frankly, the Phillies won despite him.

With the Atlanta Braves, Mets, and even the Washington Nationals improved in the NL East, the Phillies won’t get away with Lidge blowing 11 saves and having a 7.21 ERA.

If Lidge can come back to resemble somewhat of his 2008 form and the rest of the bullpen stabilizes, the Phillies will once again win the NL East and perhaps, the NL Pennant.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Phillies Hold Off Yankees, Force Game Six

November 3, 2009

Like George Costanza, the Philadelphia Phillies did the opposite last night.

Instead of having tuna on toast, with coleslaw, and a cup of coffee and trying to wait out AJ Burnett, the Phillies had chicken salad, on rye, untoasted, and a cup of tea and jumped all over Burnett.

The Phillies were aggressive and ambushed Burnett in the first inning thanks to a Chase Utley three-run homerun and eventually held on for an 8-6 victory to force a Game Six back in the Bronx.

The Yankees now lead the best-of-seven World Series 3-2.

What ever respect Burnett earned in his gutsy performance in Game Five of the ALCS and his brilliant performance in Game Two of the World Series, he lost last night.

Yankees Orioles Baseball

Burnett gave the Yankees nothing last night

To go out in a World Series game and give your team absolutely nothing, is pathetic. At least battle like you did against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Here is all you need to know about where Burnett’s head was last night.

In the bottom of the third, Burnett was facing Jayson Werth with two on and nobody out. Burnett gets to 0-2 on Werth on two fastballs. The second fastball he blew by Werth.

Now one of the first things you learn when you become a pitcher is if a guy can’t catch up to your fastball, don’t throw anything offspead.

So what does Burnett do? He throws a tumbling curveball right over the middle of the plate. Werth was all over it and ripped the ball right back up the middle.

You can’t throw that pitch, if a guy just couldn’t catch up to your fastball on the pitch before. Let him prove that he can hit your fastball.

Burnett was then taken out of the game.

Just a terrible performance.

Here are some other observations from last night.

When Shane Victorino got hit on the finger squaring to bunt in the first inning, it reminded me of David Cone breaking his finger in 1987 on a bunt attempt.

In a potential clinching game in the World Series, the Yankees had Nick Swisher batting fifth.

Lee was good last night, but wasn’t great. He walked three guys last night and had only walked three guys in his previous four starts.

Lee only threw first-pitch strikes to 18 out of the 31 batters he faced. Very uncharacteristic for him.

I was very surprised to see Lee come out for the eighth inning. I thought Charlie Manuel should have gone to Chan Ho Park to start the inning and preserve Lee for a relief appearance in a potential Game Seven.

Great job by David Roberston and Alfredo Aceves to keep the Yankees in the game. Four innings, two hits, and three strike outs.

The Yankees have to be encouraged by Phil Hughes’ performance last night. 1.1 innings and looked sharp.

I guess we now know why Damaso Marte is ahead of Phil Coke on the depth chart.

With five homeruns, Chase Utley has tied Reggie Jackson for most homeruns in a World Series.

Why does Swisher look up at the scoreboard before every pitch? If this was the 1960’s, he would be accused of stealing signs.

Can someone please teach Brett Gardner how to bunt? This guy is one of the fastest players in baseball and he is hitting the ball in the air every AB.

I had no problem with Manuel going with Ryan Madson in the ninth. Lidge threw 30 pitches the night before and Madson was solid in Game Four.

Whatever praying the Phillies’ dugout did before the Derek Jeter AB–it worked. Jeter hitting into a 6-4-3 double play is more than anyone could have expected.

Say what you want about Johnny Damon–when the game and season is on the line, he shows up to play.

You can make all the great defensive plays you want, but Mark Teixeira’s postseason honeymoon is over. He has been awful in this World Series and for the most part, the entire postseason.

Hideki Matsui leads the Yankees in total bases this World Series (11) and has only started two games.

Citizens Bank Park has an X-Ray machine in the stadium. How far have we come in terms of technology? It really is amazing and we all, including myself take it for granted.

Hypothetical here: Let’s say Teixeira tied the game with a two-run HR in the ninth and Brett Gardner wins the game for the Yankees in the 15th inning. Does Utley still win the MVP award?

Ryan Howard has struck out 12 times this postseason tying Willie Wilson’s World Series record. I am confident that he will break that record in Game Six.

Another hypothetical here: Game Six, the Phillies are up 4-3, and heading into the ninth inning–who close’s for the Phillies?

If there ever was a “good loss” last night was it for the Yankees. They took the Phillies best punch last night and managed to get back up and make a fight out of it.

The Yankee teams from 2001-2008 would have taken that punch and not gotten back up.

Hero for Game Five – Chase Utley

Goat for Game Five – AJ Burnett

Series MVP – Chase Utley

Game Six is Wednesday at 7:57 ET.

Phillies Destroy Dodgers 10-4, Head Back To World Series

October 22, 2009

Like I said last week, if Chase Utley doesn’t beat you, then Ryan Howard will. If Howard doesn’t beat you, then Raul Ibanez will. And if none of those guys beat you, Jayson Werth will.

Werth hit two HR's last night

Werth hit two HR's last night

Last night, Jayson Werth smacked two HR’s and drove in four runs as the Philadelphia Phillies destroyed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 to advance to their second straight World Series.

At some point I am going to realize that I shouldn’t keep betting against the Phillies. I picked the Colorado Rockies to beat them in the NLDS and I picked the Dodgers to beat them in the NLCS. Maybe if I pick the New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim to win the World Series, the Phillies would win?

What I have realized is that what happens in the regular season doesn’t matter for the Phillies. Not only are they a unique bunch because their superstars are their grinders, but they are unique because no matter what happens in the regular season, their players rise up in October.

That my friends, is a winning combination.

Did Jimmy Rollins have the best regular season? No, he didn’t. But he will always get the big hit in October. You can bank on it.

Carlos Ruiz is a nice regular season catcher. In the postseason, he takes his game to another level. Was there a Phillies’ rally in this series he wasn’t a part of?

How about Shane Victorino? In the regular season he had a .358 OBP. In the postseason he is getting on base almost 44 percent of the time. He is having great AB’s.

And of course, how about Brad Lidge? This guy couldn’t save his way out of a paper bag from April to September. Now in five postseason games, he has three saves and a Blutarsky-esque ERA of 0.00.

All these guys just know how to win in October. Did you know the Phillies are 18-5 in their last 23 postseason games? 18-5!!! That is incredible.

As for the Dodgers, this series was over when Jonathan Broxton blew the save in Game 4. And the series was officially over when Vicente Padilla gave up the three-run HR to Werth in the bottom of the first inning.

That HR was game, set, and match.

I think the Dodgers found out what their fatal flaw is in this series. They really need an ace.

They have a nice regular season pitching staff. It’s a staff that could win 85-95 games in the NL West. However, they don’t have that guy who can go out there and give you seven dominant innings on a consistent basis in the postseason.

Chad Billingsley was supposed to be that guy, but he is clearly not at this point. They need to get themselves a Roy Halladay or a John Lackey.

Teams like the Phillies crush mediocre pitching and the Dodgers have mediocre pitchers.

Here are some of my other observations from last night’s game:

I don’t want to hear about Cole Hamels peripherals anymore. The guy is not the same pitcher as he was last year. I was shocked that he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning last night.

James Loney was the only Dodgers’ player to show up for all five games in this series.

Someone should tell George Sherrill that pitching in October in Philadelphia is a lot different from pitching in Baltimore in July.

What was the point of bringing Clayton Kershaw into the game last night?

Chan Ho Park should have never started the eighth inning. He should only be a one inning pitcher. Ryan Madson should have started that inning.

How good was Chad Durbin in this series? He didn’t allow a hit in three innings pitched. Again, another guy who steps up his game in October.

Hero of Game 5 – Jayson Werth

Goat of Game 5 – Vicente Padilla

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans on making the 2009 World Series

Dodgers Rally In The Eighth, Even Series At One

October 17, 2009

31 pitches

Five pitchers

Three hits

Two walks

Two runs

One blown save

That was the bottom of the eighth inning for the Philadelphia Phillies. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the eighth, the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for two runs and eventually held on for a 2-1 victory to even their best-of-seven series with the Phillies at one game apiece.

As my friend Mike always says “How do you beat Ric Flair? A small package in the center of the ring.” I say “How do you beat the Phillies? Get to their bullpen.”

The Phillies’ bullpen stinks. I know it’s harsh, but there is no other way around it. Yesterday, they ruined what was a brilliant pitching performance by Pedro Martinez.

Pedro was classic Pedro yesterday

Pedro was classic Pedro yesterday

Martinez was vintage Pedro. He had the Dodger batters off-balance all game. His performance yesterday was very similar to his performance in Game Five of the 1999 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians.

He didn’t have a 95 mph fastball that night either. But what he had that night and what he had yesterday, was his brain. And Martinez is one of the smartest pitchers in the game–if not the smartest.

Nobody is better when they don’t have their best stuff than Martinez is. He had everything working yesterday. The Dodgers had no chance against him in the hot California sun.

Of course, the classic second guess is why did Charlie Manuel take Martinez out after seven innings? Martinez allowed just two hits, struckout three, and didn’t walk a batter in those seven innings of work.

Most importantly, Martinez had only thrown 87 pitches. If Manuel would allow Martinez to throw 130 pitches against the New York Mets in a meaningless game in September, why wouldn’t he allow him to go further into the game?

“To me, Pedro was done,” Manuel said. “He did a tremendous job and took it actually farther than I anticipated. . . . He was gone. I think he was spent.”

If the manager of the Phillies says that Martinez was done, then I have to believe him. One would think he would know his players better than anyone.

Manuel took Martinez out after the seventh and that’s when the fun started.

Manuel brought Chan Ho Park into the game to face Casey Blake, Ronnie Belliard, and Russell Martin. Park, who was so good Thursday night, was the complete opposite yesterday.

Park allowed a leadoff single to Blake and then misplayed a bunt by Belliard. Park really should have fielded that bunt. It wasn’t a good bunt at all by Belliard.

Now with runners on first and second with nobody out, Martin was attempting to sacrifice bunt. However, Park wouldn’t let him because he couldn’t throw the ball over the plate.

If a guy is giving himself up and giving you an automatic out–let him. Just throw the ball over the plate. It shouldn’t be that hard to throw the ball over the middle if you are a major league pitcher.

On a 3-0 count, Park got a gift call from the home plate umpire. The pitch was about three inches inside, but was called a strike. Completely changed the AB and the inning.

With the count now 3-2 and the bunt off, Martin hit a routine groundball to third. Pedro Feliz threw the ball to Chase Utley covering second for one out and then Utley decided to throw the ball off the fence on the Dodgers’ dugout.

I know some people will say Utley’s bad throw was caused by the hard slide by Belliard who was on first. That wasn’t the case. Utley just made an awful throw.

Juan Pierre, who was running for Blake scored on the play to tie the game at one. Instead of having two outs and a runner on third, the Dodgers had one out with a runner on first.

Then came the parade of Phillies’ relievers out of the bullpen. I am surprised I didn’t see Don Carmen or Mitch Williams come into the game.

Scott Eyre gave up a single to Jim Thome. Ryan Madson walked Rafael Furcal. And with the bases loaded, JA Happ walked Andre Ethier to force in a run.

Just like that it was 2-1 Dodgers and when Jonathan Broxton set the Phillies down 1-2-3 in the ninth, the series was tied at one.

And not to be overshadowed in this win for the Dodgers was the effort by Vicente Padilla. He was matching Martinez pitch for pitch and only made one mistake (a HR to Ryan Howard in the fourth) in seven-and-a-third innings of work.

He has pitched brilliantly for the Dodgers in two starts in the postseason.

Game Three is Sunday at 8:07 ET

Hero for Game Two – Vicente Padilla

Goat for Game Two – Chase Utley

Series MVP – Ryan Howard

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Ruiz, Ibanez Power Phillies To Game One Win

October 16, 2009

If Jimmy Rollins doesn’t beat you, then Shane Victorino will beat you. If Victorino doesn’t beat you, then Jayson Werth will beat you. If Werth doesn’t beat you then Chase Utley will beat you. And if none of those guy beat you, Ryan Haward, Raul Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz will beat you.

That is how deep and powerful the Philadelphia Phillies lineup is. The Los Angeles Dodgers found out first hand how deep the Phillies lineup is in their 8-6 loss in Game One of the NLCS last night.

The Phillies took advantage of seven walks handed out by Dodger pitching as well as some just horrendous managing by Joe Torre to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

This was a weird game because it started off as a pitcher’s duel between Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels. Both pitchers looked very sharp early. I was particularly impressed with Kershaw. He had electic stuff through the first four innings.

Kershaw fell apart in the fifth

Kershaw fell apart in the fifth last night

Then the fifth inning happened and this game went from looking like a two hour and 30 minute game, to a game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Ibanez led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Kershaw’s first wild pitch of the inning. Pedro Feliz walked and now you have first and second with nobody out for Carlos Ruiz.

Ruiz proceeds to tomahawk a ball about 360 feet over the leftfield wall. Kershaw was cruising through the first four innings and with just one pitch he is down now 3-1.

What a good little player Ruiz is. He is really underrated. He is just another player in a long list of gritty, gutty, gamers the Phillies have.

To put it in perspective how underrated Ruiz is, according to Marc Hulet over at Fangraphs, Ruiz was worth about $10 million to the Phillies this season. His salary for 2009 is around $475,000. Not a bad deal for the Phillies.

Once Ruiz hit that homerun, Kershaw unraveled like Armando Benitez in any pressure situation. Kershaw walked Hamels on four pitches, then got Rollins to hit into a fielder’s choice, and then struck out Victorino on a ball that bounced five feet in front of home plate.

In that sequence, Kerhshaw, channeling his inner Rick Ankiel (Ankiel threw a record five wild pitches in an inning in 2000) threw two more wild pitches. He was done. Toast. Finished.

This is when Torre went into sleep mode. I would have taken Kershaw out before facing Utley. It was clear this kid was rattled and had nothing in the mound.

Torre left Kershaw in to face Utley and he promptly walked the Phillies’ second baseman. After that there is no way on earth I am leaving Kershaw in to face Howard.

It was still a 3-1 game and the way Hamels was pitching up to that point, three runs might have been enough. There is no way Torre can let that game get out of hand.

He had a lefty warming up in the pen in Scott Elbert and a righty warming up in Ramon Troncosco. Torre either has to bring in Elbert to face Howard or he can walk Howard and let Troncosco face Werth.

Either way, Kershaw can’t be pitching to Howard.

Of course, Torre leaves Kershaw in the game and Howard proceeds to rip one down the rightfield line. The game is now 5-1 and Torre was a day late and a dollar short with his decision making.

Not only was that a terrible managerial move by Torre, but there was another part of this game that would have me really concerned about where Torre is mentally this series.

In the bottom of the sixth with two on and two out, Torre called upon Jim Thome to pinch hit. First, I have no problem with Torre going to Thome that early in the game.

Thome is their big gun off the bench and who knows if the Dodgers are going to get another chance like this for the rest of the game. An extra-base hit gives the Dodgers a lead and Thome is their best chance at an extra-base hit off the bench.

Now here comes my issue with Torre and where I would have lost my mind if I was a Dodger fan.

Thome walked and right now he can’t run. He has plantar fasciitis. Everyone seemed to know this except for Torre. Thome gets to first and there is no pinch-runner coming off the bench.

Torre was so asleep at the wheel on this, it was disturbing to watch. Any manager worth his salt plans ahead and goes to someone on the bench “Hey, if he walks or gets on base, you are going to pinch-run.”

It was like Torre was only expecting a HR or a strikeout from Thome. He was completely unprepared for anything else.

The TV camera goes into the Dodgers’ dugout and it appeared Torre was asking Don Mattingly if he could run? Joe, it’s your job to know that.

I will assume Mattingly said no and now they are scrambling for a pinch-runner. Are you kidding me? I could not believe what I was watching.

Torre eventually pointed to Randy Wolf, who had that “Who me?” look on his face. Wolf had to down to the dugout and put on cleats, which proved Torre had not prepared for the situation.

It was a complete clown show.

Wake up Torre!!! You are not in the American League and you are not in Yankeeland anymore. You actually have to work in the National League and make decisions.

You were embarrassed in Game Four in last year’s NLCS (the Matt Stairs game) and you were embarrassed in Game One of this year’s NLCS.

Dodger fans can’t be too pleased with what they have seen from Torre.

Even with Torre in never-never land the Dodgers still had their chances in this game. Down 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers had Andre Ethier on second with nobody out.

Then Chan Ho Park entered the game. Park came into the game looking like a guy who just on vacation for a month. He had that “I don’t give a darn about anything” beard going and looked extremely relaxed.

He looked like Vincent Chase when he disappeared on that island during last season’s Entourage. Park came into the game throwing bullets.

Park got Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Casey Blake 1-2-3 and the Phillies had the lead. That inning was huge. Enough can’t be said about Park’s effort in Game One.

Ibanez put the icing on the cake

Ibanez put the icing on the cake

The Phillies got three insurance runs in the top of the eighth on a Raul Ibanez three-run HR off of George Sherrill. Some interesting notes about that inning.

Sherrill walked the first two batters of the inning. Up until that inning, Sherrill had never walked the first two batters of an inning in his career. The last HR Sherrill gave up to a left-handed hitter was on June 14, 2008 to Adam LaRoche.

Ryan Madson did his best to cough up the lead in the bottom of the frame, but limited the damage to just two runs. With the Phillies up 8-6, Brad Lidge came into the game to close the Dodgers out.

This was a long, but entertaining game. The Phillies will try to take a 2-0 series lead today and will have Pedro Martinez going to mound.

The Dodgers will counter with Vicente Padilla. This is a must win game for the Dodgers.

Hero for Game One – Chan Ho Park

Goat for Game One – Joe Torre

Series MVP – Raul Ibanez

Game Three is today at 4:07 ET

Huston We Have A Problem: Phillies Stun Rockies In Ninth

October 13, 2009

Anyone who has read the book Moneyball knows that one of the basic theories or principles of Billy Beane and Bill James is that any pitcher can be a closer. They feel that you can pull anyone off the street and they could pick up saves.

We saw this theory or principal work this year with guys like Heath Bell, JP Howell, and Ryan Franklin.

However, I have always disagreed with this theory or principal to an extent. I say to an extent because I agree that anyone can close a game…in the regular season.

Any yodel can close a game in June against the Arizona Diamondbacks or the Kansas City Royals. However, it takes a special person to close out a game in the postseason. Not just anyone can close out a game in October.

The Colorado Rockies found that out first-hand last night.

In what was just a wonderful baseball game, the Philadelphia Phillies scored three runs with two outs in the ninth inning off of closer Huston Street to defeat the Rockies 5-4 and win their best-of-five series 3-1.

The late inning disaster by Street (we’ll get to that in a bit) overshadowed what was an old fashioned pitchers duel for the majority of the game. Starters Cliff Lee and Ubaldo Jimenez matched each other pitch-for-pitch for seven innings.

Street had a meltdown last night

Street had a meltdown last night

Jimenez made just two mistakes in seven innings. He gave up a solo homerun in the first to Shane Victorino and another solo homerun to Jayson Werth on a serious hanger in the sixth.

This game was 2-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth and then the Rockies came alive.

Thanks to some unbelievable jumping ability by Dexter Fowler, the Rockies had first and second with one out. Charlie Manuel called upon Ryan Madson to get out of the jam.

Madson got Troy Tulowitzki to fly out to left. Ben Francisco, who just entered the game for defense made a great diving catch to get the out.

Jason Giambi, who was pinch-hitting for Garrett Atkins came through with a single to left to tie the game. Yorvit Torrealba then came up and he hit a rope to right center. Todd Helton and Jason Giambi scored and the Rockies had a 4-2 lead.

Then Street came in.

Street was shaky in Game Two, he was shaky in Game Three, and he was ultra-shaky in Game Four. Street struckout Gregg Dobbs to start the inning. Then he allowed an infield single to Jimmy Rollins and then got Victorino to hit into a fielder’s choice.

And then this is where Street fell apart.

When I pitched, I always had a theory about nibbling: Nibbling leads to walks and walks lead to big innings. By nibbling, you also told the hitter that your best stuff as a pitcher couldn’t get him out.

When you nibble and try to make that perfect pitch, a pitcher has a tendency to “aim” the ball. That is what Street did last night. He tried to make that perfect to Chase Utley, nibbled, and ended up walking the Phillies’ second baseman.

Street was scared to throw the ball over the plate. He didn’t believe his best stuff could get Utley out in that situation.

Now with runners on first and second, Ryan Howard came to the plate. Then I saw Street do something and at that point, I knew the Rockies were in trouble.

With Victorino now on second, Street did one of those fake throws to second to try to keep Victorino close. At that point it was all over for Street.

One, where is Victorino going? Do you honestly think he is going to steal third with Howard at the plate? If he would have gotten thrown out at third to end the game, people in Philadelphia would have burned his house down.

And two, if Victorino wants to steal third–let him. His run doesn’t matter. What that told me was that Street was avoiding throwing the ball and his concentration wasn’t 100 percent on Howard.

So what happens? Street misses his spot by at least six inches and Howard laces a game-tying, two-run double to tie the game. If your concentration is not 100 percent focused on Howard, he is going to kill you every time.

Jayson Werth came up next and flared a single to right center and just like that the Phillies had the lead.

The Rockies tried to make a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, but for the second night in a row, Brad Lidge got Tulowitzki to end the game. This time Lidge got Tulowitzki on a wicked slider down and away.

So no Billy Beane and Bill James–not just any old pitcher can close out a game. It takes a very, very, very special pitcher to close out a game in October.

Unfortunately for the Rockies, they didn’t have that special person.

The Phillies will play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. Game One is set for Thursday. I will be previewing this series tomorrow

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Awful Umpiring Help Phillies Take Game Three

October 12, 2009

I would like to first off thank the inventor of DVR. It really is one of the best inventions ever. It allows to watch shows, programs on sporting events on your time.

Last night I used this wonderful invention to record Game Three of the Philadelphia Phillies-Colorado Rockies series last night. With the game starting at 10:00 ET, there was no way I was staying up to watch this game.

I watched the first four innings last night, woke up this morning, and watched the remaining five innings. Truly fantastic.

While DVR allows you to watch everything you want to see, it allows you to watch things you have no interest in seeing during the show, program, or sporting event. Things like–more awful, hideous, terrible, inexcusable umpiring.

What the heck is going on with the umpiring during these playoffs? It has been truly terrible. I think the home plate umpiring has been okay. For the most part, the home plate umpires have been consistent with their umpiring

But the issue is–they are missing obvious calls. And it is happening time and time again throughout these playoffs. As much as I would hate to see all forms of instant replay in baseball, I really think Bud Selig and his band of merry owners are going to have to start to give it some serious consideration moving forward.

Last night was a perfect example of the umpires missing the obvious calls. In the top of the ninth, with the game tied at five, Chase Utley came to the plate with one out and Jimmy Rollins on second.

Utley hit a ball that went off his leg in the batter’s box and then rolled into fair territory. Utley was able to beat the ball out for an infield single.

However, not only did the ball hit him in the batter’s box which is a foul ball, but Utley was out at first base as well. Not did the umpires get the call wrong once, but they compounded the issue by getting the call wrong a second time.

As you can see Utley is clearly out

As you can see Utley is clearly out

Two terrible calls on the same play. Rollins advanced to third on the play and then the Phillies took advantage of the situation when Ryan Howard hit a sac fly to give the Phillies the lead.

I hate to harp on bad umpiring because it really overshadowed what was a really good game. And despite this game being played in 30 degree weather, it really was a good game.

In a back-and-forth game, the difference at the end was the backend of the Phillies bullpen. Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge didn’t allow a hit for the last three innings and really shut the Rockies down.

With both starters being completely useless–JA Happ and Jason Hammel, you knew this game was not only going to come down to the underbelly of the bullpens, but the backend as well.

Lidge got the save last night

Lidge got the save last night

Madson, Durbin, and yes, Lidge all got the job done. And let’s give somewhat credit to Lidge. I don’t care how much of a Philly homer you are, when Lidge walked Carlos Gonzalez (the best player so far in this series on either team) you had to being thinking here we go again.

Then he walked Todd Helton with two outs and then about four million Phillies fans said “I can’t watch right now.” But Lidge got his act together and managed to get Troy Tulowitzki to pop out to end the game.

I said somewhat credit earlier because Lidge really threw a hanger to Tulowitzki. That last pitch was made to be hit 450 feet. Tulowitzki just missed it.

But the bottom line is this–one inning, no runs, no hits, and a save for Lidge in a tight game. The Phillies and their fans aren’t interested in style points, they are interested in results.

The result was a 6-5 Phillies win and a 2-1 advantage in the series.

Game Four is tonight at 6:07 ET. Charlie Manuel should be thanking Mother Nature for the rest of his life. Because of the snow out, Manuel can come back with Cliff Lee tonight and if necessary, Cole Hammels tomorrow.

I am convinced Manuel had no idea who he was going to start in Game Four. Now he gets to come back with Lee. Not a bad deal for the Phillies.

The Champs Are Back: Philadelphia Phillies Clinch Playoff Spot

October 1, 2009

The defending World Series champions are back to defend their crown.

With their 10-3 victory over the Houston Astros, the Philadelphia Phillies clinched a spot in the 2009 postseason and their third straight NL East division title.

The Phillies have become, from top to bottom, one of the best run organizations in baseball. If you are looking to build an organization, the Phillies have a great blueprint for success.

Here’s the blueprint…

  • Draft a solid core like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley.
  • Surround that core with solid gamers like Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino.
  • Add players when needed like Raul Ibanez and Joe Blanton.
  • Build up your farm system so you can trade for players at the trading deadline like Cliff Lee.

That’s a pretty solid blueprint if you ask me. Despite their solid blueprint for success, the Phillies have a lot of questions going into the postseason. The questions mainly surround their bullpen.

Going into tonight, I was all prepared to suggest that Manager Charlie Manuel pitch Pedro Martinez in Game 4 and use JA Happ as the closer. Brad Lidge is toast this year and I think Ryan Madson is too good in the eighth to be removed from that role.

Happ could be to the Phillies this year what Adam Wainwright was for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. But after watching Martinez pitch last night, I am not so sure Martinez can start a playoff game for the Phillies.

Martinez had absolutely nothing against the Astros. His fastball was between 87-89 mph and it looked like Martinez was struggling to even get it to that speed. What on earth were the Phillies thinking letting Martinez throw 130 pitches against the New York Mets on September 13th?

That’s like not going to the gym for six months and the first time you go back you run a mile on the treadmill. Surprisingly, you feel great and when you go back the next time, instead of taking it easy again — you run five miles.

Chances are you won’t be the same and Martinez hasn’t been the same since.

I think at this point, the Phillies will have to go with Happ in Game 4 and take their chances with Madson or Lidge closing out the ninth.

The Phillies have a very good chance to repeat as champions. Now it’s up to their bullpen to make it happen.

Brad Lidge Officially Out As Philadelphia Phillies Closer

September 11, 2009

It was only a matter of time before the Philadelphia Phillies relieved Brad Lidge of his closing duties. Yesterday, it became official. Brad Lidge is out as Phillies closer.

Minutes before last night’s game against the Washington Nationals, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel announced that Lidge will only pitch in “low-stress” situations and Ryan Madson and Brett Myers will share the closer duties until Lidge becomes “right.”

There’s nothing like going into the postseason having no clue who is going to pitch the ninth inning.

The Phillies better figure out who is going to pitch the ninth inning in the playoffs real quick. They have the starting rotation, they clearly have the offense, but if they don’t have the guy to nail the hammer down in the ninth — it could be one and done for the Phillies in the playoffs.

I wrote yesterday, that my guess was Brett Myers would end up closing. If I was Manuel, I would have Myers close and keep Madson in the eighth inning. Madson has been great in the eigth inning and I wouldn’t want to screw around with that.

Will Lidge close again for the Phillies?

“He could close,” Manuel said. “He hasn’t lost nothing. I’m telling you right now, he definitely can still close. I see where he could be our everyday closer again. Yeah, of course.”

Really Charlie? “He hasn’t lost nothing?” I guess Charlie Manuel never heard of the word confidence. Once that goes, you have no shot.

Remember, you can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/theghostofmlg

The Philadelphia Phillies Have A Brad Lidge Problem

August 26, 2009
Lidge blew another save last night

Lidge blew another save last night

During the course of a 162 game season, every team faces a huge decision that could potentially shape the course of their season. These decision can come from about 100 different areas.

For the New York Yankees, it was the decision to put Phil Hughes in the bullpen and for the Colorado Rockies it was the decision to fire Clint Hurdle in May. Both decisions have come from the complete opposite end of the spectrum, but both proved to change the course of each of franchise for the better.

I think for the Philadelphia Phillies, they are about to face a huge decision that might have a direct impact on whether or not they will repeat as World Series champs.

Last night Brad Lidge blew is major league leading ninth save in a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lidge came into the game trying to protect a 4-3 Phillies lead and in just three batters later, the lead was gone and the game was over.

Lidge now has a 7.33 ERA, which, amongst relievers with at least 40 innings pitched is dead last in baseball. Everyone knew Lidge would blow a couple of saves this year after going perfect in save opportunities last year, but a 7.33 ERA? That is inexcusable.

 “He’s our closer,” Manuel said. “I’ve said it all over the place. That’s the guy who we’ve got.” I appreciate the loyalty Charlie, but at some point you have to realize there is a massive problem here.

I keep wondering how different Manuel would feel if the Phillies were in a dog fight to make the playoffs.

Perhaps Manuel is waiting for Lidge to turn it around, but in late August/early September, you are what you are. Lidge right now is the worst closer in baseball.

If the Phillies do decide to make a change they have a couple of options. They could decide to use Ryan Madson, who filled in nicely for Lidge when Lidge went on the DL (four saves), or they could use the soon to be returning Brett Myers, who closed for the Phillies in 2007 (21 saves).

The Phillies have the offense and with the addition of Cliff Lee they have the starting rotation. Now they just need to get their Brad Lidge problem straightened out.

If they don’t, they might not make it back to the World Series.