After a depressing 4 game slide against the Astros, the Phillies bats came out swinging last night against the Nationals. Five home runs later, and it looked like this team may be finding its stride again. Raul Ibanez busted out of his slump with 2 of the 5 homers plus a single. The other 3 home runs came courtesy of Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley. The Phillies became only the 12th team in history last night to have at least 4 players with 30 or more home runs in a season: those 4 are Utley, Werth, Ibanez and Ryan Howard.
Although the forecast called for rain last night, Pedro Martinez got a break from Mother Nature and was able to pitch 6 2/3 innings uninterrupted. Martinez gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk and did a good job keeping the Phillies in the game. He even showed some attitude when he signaled to a Nationals player that he had his eye on him.
Here are a few shots from the game:
Despite the 5-3 lead going into the 9th inning, the drama was not yet over for the Phillies. As usual and despite his struggles, Brad Lidge was sent in for the save and proceeded to self-destruct once again. A hit, then a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases. With only one out and the game on the line, Charlie Manuel emerged from the dugout, angrily tossed his gum across the dirt and took Lidge out of the game. Ryan Madson bailed him out by retiring the Nationals best hitters in order; Ryan Zimmerman struck out and Adam Dunn grounded out.
It seems to be crystal clear to everyone except Charlie Manuel that Lidge is DONE. He should be removed from the closer role immediately. This has gone on long enough and has turned into a major problem. I respect Lidge as a person and as the guy who got it done for this team in 2008, but this has gone too far. Put him on ice and try it again next year. If Manuel refuses to do what is necessary, then I believe GM Ruben Amaro Jr. needs to step in and take the decision out of his hands. I have never been a fan of GM’s interfering with the manager, but in this case, it appears that Manuel just cannot muster the courage to do the right thing.
I feel for Charlie, really I do. I would not want to be in his shoes, but the manager needs to put personal feelings aside and get this team back on track. Brett Myers has experience closing and he wants to do the job. Right now, Lidge looks like he is dreading having to step on the mound every time out. Myers is capable, he is healthy and last night, he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings; it was his third straight scoreless outing since returning from hip surgery. Clearly, he is ready, willing and able to do the job.
I understand that Manuel does not want to crush the confidence of his closer, who is going to be with the Phillies for the next two years. However, Lidge will have an entire off-season to get over it. And yes, the Phillies have a lead in the division, but watch how fast that lead disappears when the Phillies do things like get swept in a four game series by the Astros and then nearly blow the next game against the Nationals because Manuel is worried about hurting feelings. No lead is safe when your closer cannot perform.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game….enjoy!
Photos by Jenn