Friday, April 6, 2012

Just like old times for Lidge

US Presswire photo
Fill-in closer Brad Lidge overcame a ninth-inning triple yesterday to earn his first save.
CHICAGO -- Brad Lidge had taken the mound in this situation -- protecting a slim, ninth-inning lead -- plenty of times before. Two hundred sixty-six times in the big leagues, to be precise.

This, however, wasn't like any of those previous save opportunities. This was Lidge's first time pitching in a Nationals uniform, and only the second time he'd been entrusted to close a game in two years.

Did that make the whole scene yesterday afternoon feel out of the ordinary?

"It felt pretty familiar, to be honest," the 35-year-old said. "I think once you get out there and you're facing the Cubs at Wrigley, you go back to facing the Cubs at Wrigley. It's a different team, of course, and the guys behind me are different. But I know what I wanted to do out there, and you kind of just fall back on what you believe is going to work."

For the most part, what Lidge believed was going to work indeed worked. He recorded the necessary three outs, preserved the Nationals' 2-1 victory over Chicago and emerged with his first save while wearing anything other than a Phillies uniform in five years.

There was, unfortunately, one significant hiccup along the way, one that nearly spelled disaster for the Nationals. After striking out Reed Johnson to open the ninth, Lidge left a fastball out over the plate to Ian Stewart, who belted the ball to right field.

Lidge's immediate reaction was not one of worry. After seeing at least three sure home runs stay in the park thanks to a fierce wind blowing straight in from center field, he was convinced Stewart's ball would be caught by Jayson Werth.

"That's the one thing on a day like today: You can't hit the ball out of the park," he said. "That's what I'm thinking. And when he hit that ball, I'm like: 'Fine. He hit it, but that's not going anywhere.' And all of a sudden, I turn around and I see Werth drifting back, and I'm like: 'Oh my gosh, he really hit that ball pretty good.'"

Sure enough, the ball kept carrying toward the fence, sending Werth on a mad scramble to haul it in. The wind did prevent it from landing in the bleachers, but it also pushed it to the right and just past Werth's outstretched glove. By the time Werth corralled it and got it back into the infield, Stewart was sliding into third base with a triple.

Even then, Lidge was confident in his ability to keep the tying run from crossing the plate.

"At that point, I was like: 'Alright, I can get out of this now.'"

True to his word, Lidge did get out of it. He got Jeff Baker to chop a grounder to third, where Ryan Zimmerman made a nifty play on the ball and fired home to nail pinch-runner Joe Mather.

Moments later, Lidge caught Marlon Byrd looking at a 3-2 slider, ending the game and locking up his first save since August 3, 2011.

The man who recorded the final out of the 2008 World Series in Philadelphia hadn't experienced a situation like this in quite some time, but he harkened back to all those previous save opportunities to help him get through this one.

"I was just trying to tell myself to just take a step back, take a deep breath and throw strikes," he said. "Because you're going to have that extra adrenaline in that situation. Fortunately I've done it enough times where I know how to breathe and just relax and throw strikes. It's definitely a higher-intensity situation."

59 comments:

baseballswami said...

Yesterday we had Desi as the hitting hero, Lidge ( welcome to the Nats!) with the save, Clip being Clip, Zim making the outstanding defensive play, Werth made one also - even the walks helped, SS with his superb performance. In short - a team win. Not every player got to be a hero in that game but my feeling is that during the season, in each game, someone different will step up in the clutch. I love this team!

Section 3, My PFB Sofa said...

"Fortunately I've done it enough times where I know how to breathe and just relax and throw strikes. It's definitely a higher-intensity situation."

Just in case you were wondering why HRod wasn't closing that game.

The Fox said...

I was a little skeptical when they signed him. He still has a great slider but his fastball had really fallen off last year. Can you be an effective closer with only one pitch and not be from Panama?

Lidge is battle tested and that should help the Nats and Storen too. Hope he proves me wrong and has a great year.

NatsJack on Florida said...

HRod is closing Saturdays game. Davey is going to alternate just like he did in ST

NatsJack in Florida said...

Fox..... Lidge is consistently hitting 92 on the gun which is plenty factored in with that great slide piece.

SCNatsFan said...

Boy that curly W made this morning seem a little brighter

SpingfieldNatsFan1 said...

On another pitching issue, Curt Schilling on Baseball Tonight said he still was having concerns about SS's delivery during yesterday's game. It was something about his arm position that he thinks will lead to continued problems of shoulder weakness...not sure if this was another variation on the inverted "W" theory. I don't have a lot of experience with these theories on biomechanics, but is this something we should worry about long term with SS?

The Fox said...

NatsJack,

Yea I've seen that. I've always liked him as a person. When he's interviewed he takes the heat if he doesn't pitch well. Last year he was having trouble hitting 90 when you pass 35 most people attribute it to age, maybe he was overworked or injured. He's a slider first almost 65% of the time fastball second closer and he has had a fine career. I just thought if he did not have the fastball he'd have to walk a very fine line. Storen supposedly idolizes him the mental part of closing putting the past game behind you and not let it have any effect on you is very important so it was probably a good pick-up. Like I said I was probably wrong and I'm glad they signed him now.

NatsJack in Florida said...

It's the same crap. Schilling will do anything to keep his name in front of people.

Stras's arm angle is mo different than Roy Halladay's and he seems to do OK.

The Fox said...

SpingfieldNatsFan1

Tell Curt Schilling to have a coke and a smile.


Waning not for work or small children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVdCZ2G06dc

whatsanattau said...

Got to love the confidence with which Lidge speaks. Tall drink of water (6'5") - the cameraman seemed to have trouble getting both Lidge and the new MASN sideline reporter (5'2"?) in the same shot. Like her by the way, and not just because she's pretty. Her questions were on point and professional. And many of the new Nats - Lidge, Gio, etc... bring energy to the screen. They're not uncomfortable in front of the camera and ooze enthusiasm. Makes for better television.

natsfan1a said...

Is it just me, or did the headline make anybody else think of the scene in Cat Ballou where Lee Marvin is recounting a holdup to the gang at the hideout? "I'm telling you, Cassidy...they're coming with the payroll. It was just like old times." Anyhoo, nice to see Lidge come out of the 'pen and get it done yesterday. :-)

(Probably he breathed through his eyeballs, right?)

whatsanattau said...

I've heard other analysts express concern about Strasburg's delivery too. Many of them also have been predicting Tim Lincecum's downfall for 5 straight years. Eventually they will be right.

natsfan1a said...

Er, make that "eyelids." I hate it when people get the words wrong. :-)

Joe Seamhead said...

NatsJack, I thought the same thing last night after seeing the Schilling piece and then watching Halliday. Their motions are almost identical.

Positively Half St. said...

I second the sentiment that a curly W makes the morning brighter.

+1/2St.

HHover said...

I'm really not concerned by what concerns Schilling. He should go back to mouthing off about politics, where no one is even tempted to take him seriously.

bobfromalexandria said...

I think this is how we are going to win games for a while -- not so much power in the early innings, some chip runs, but unending focus and discipline, and a really great bullpen. Things will change as the season wears on, but for one game the team Rizzo and Davey Johnson put together did it just like they planned it.

Section 222 said...

Following up on the last post:

Of course, you're still a Desi skeptic, section 222. 'Tis the nature of the beast. The fact that he has outperformed (offensively) every other Nat not named Morse or Zimmerman the last two months of last season, this spring training, and now, the first game of the regular season will be ignored by the Desi skeptics.

Guilty as charged, for good reason. September doesn't mean much. (He had an even better September in 2009. How much did that mean for this 2010 performance?) Spring Training is truly meaningless, as we've been repeatedly told when anyone has a bad spring. And as for yesterday's game being an indicator of anything ... seriously? So that leaves you August when his slashline was .287/.328/.398. Not as horrendous as his career (.263/.305/.388) or his full year in 2011 (.253/.298/.358)), but still not great.

By the way, I'm mostly skeptical of Desi as a leadoff hitter. If he can clean up his fielding act, I'd be fine with his numbers batting 8th. Except he's awful in the 8 hole for some reason. But we just can't have a .298 OBP guy at the top of the order.

Believe me, I'll be thrilled if Desi comes into his own this year. If he's going to be the leadoff guy (and unfortunately I don't see any great alternatives at this point). But I'm just not going to forget last year's horrible performance based on ST and one regular season game.

I have plenty of skepticism about Werth. Not so much for Espi, mainly because he's younger and great in the field, which Desi is not.

Adam is someone that I fully expect to have a 25-30 HR /85-100 RBI season.

I'd agree with this if you'd substitute "hope" for "expect."

Shedd said...

Wish you could "like" a post on here so I could "like" The Fox's post.

I just heard one on the guys on XM's MLB channel say Strasburg's shoulder will be the next thing to blow out. Why can't these guys just shut up and let things play out?

The Fox said...

Thanks Shedd I hope I didn't offend anyone but I've grown tired of people predicting injuries.

What I'd like to know is what team in the MLB would not like to have Strasburg pitching for them?

To me this is just sour grapes which is why my name is the The Fox.

Who knows what's going to happen? I'm really happy Strasburg is pitching for the Nats and I bet most other teams are not that happy when they have to face him.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! How many of you have typed in "Kristina Akra" into The Google?

MicheleS said...

I think Stras may have said this to Boz, but Stras was pretty ticked off about the blowing out the shoulder comments. He said that as long as he repeats his mechanics that it shouldn't be an issue. It all about being consistent.

I thought one of the funny moments yesterday is when he sawed off Dempsters bat for the second time and Dempster just looked at him like "I give up"

greg said...

he should stick to making video games. i've heard the one his company just released was pretty good.

greg said...

(and by "he" i mean schilling)

bdrube said...

I 'm waiting for JayB to chime in and say what an awful mistake it was for Rizzo to sign Lidge for just $1 million. It might turn out to be one of the best free agent pick ups of the whole offseason on a dollar-to-value basis. :)

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

SpingfieldNatsFan1 said...

On another pitching issue, Curt Schilling on Baseball Tonight said he still was having concerns about SS's delivery during yesterday's game.

Schill is nothing more than a right-wing tool who likes to run his mouth. I'm with NatsJack that he will say anything just to create controversy. See Dribble, Rob, circa 2008-09. Strasburg has more talent in his left pinkie than Schill ever had, and he's making more $$$.
These inverted W theories are nothing more than hot air. Jesus has had the surgery, he's recovering fine and he's good for 160 strong innings. Screw Schill.

The Fox said...

MicheleS

Having watched a lot of baseball over the years and having seen many great players I know how lucky we are to see Strasburg pitch. I did not buy into the hype when I first read about him but by some lucky break I saw his first game and I became a believer.

Any time he take the mound he is capable of doing something special. Stras is the kind of player that other players watch. When he pitches look at the players on both teams benches they are all paying attention to him.

I don't know how long or bright that candle will burn but as long as it does I'll be watching it.

bdrube said...

It also strikes me that the Lidge signing was exactly the kind of "dumpster diving" move Bowden was forever trying to pull...getting great value by taking a chance on a player who needed to reestablish himself. The only time it ever really worked for Jimbo was with Dmitri Young, and then he went and turned a positive into a huge negative by giving Young that ridiculous extension instead of trading him at the deadline.

NatsLady said...

I had to laugh on Twitter some Phillies fan saying get ready for Lidge to cause you heartburn. Hey--Phan--our whole team is one big messa heartburn. We got this.

On Baseball Today (4/5 podcast) they discussed Lannan. 100% agreement with what Rizzo did-- there is no loyalty in baseball (i.e, we don't care what you did in 2009 and 2010). Correct there is little-to-no trade value. Correct to stash him in AAA until needed. Sorry, bud.

Now, I think the "no loyalty" thing might be extreme, but the fact is, as they said, the Nats are a different team now.

JaneB said...

The Fox said:
I don't know how long or bright that candle [Strasbiurg] will burn but as long as it does I'll be watching it.


I hope it burns a good looooooong time. AND that he's always pitching FOR us, not against us.

The ESPN magazine on the new baseball season was all over Strasburg's mechanics, but I chalk that up to some people needing to be naysayers, just because it makes themselves feel smart.

I know they have to take a day off now because it's opening day for Other Clubs. BUT! I feel like we just got started! I want a gaaaame todaaaaay! (That was me whining.) (But with a smile on my face).

NatsLady said...

P.S., FWIW, on BT they also agreed 100% with Davey alternating Lidge and Henry until Storen gets back. It's nice to hear them discuss the Nats as if they were a normal MLB team. :)

Sean Kelly said...

Good read on opening day in Detroit: http://designaterobertson.blogspot.com/2012/04/nightmare-that-was-opening-day-in.html

- I am still pretty young and know there are still a bunch of idiots in DC that could do the same, but they surely better not ruin my trip with my pops. We will be there to celebrate our first home opener since they've returned. Anyone noticed extreme behavior like Detroit at Nats Park?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Don't worry at all. Al the midwest teams fans (Tigers, Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Twins) are all great and cordial fans.

NatsLady said...

Sean Kelly, the only extreme behavior I've ever encountered at Nats Park was at Phillies games, and it was the Phillies fans. There was a drunken fight in front of me when Zimm hit a walk-off two years ago (after Werth had homered in the top of the 9th and they thought they were going to win.)

There are plenty of restrooms at the park, but the vendors run out of food if there are more than 30K in attendance, so get food early if it's a large crown.

The Red Sox fans were fine. Dodger fans, fine. You would be surprised how many there are, considering. SF fans are fine, they keep to themselves. Braves fans, OK, you have to glare at them so they won't do the "chop." O's fans, well, they are O's fans, what can you do? Cubs and Cards fans, very polite and friendly, they match their rep. Astros fans, if you see any, are funny, some of them have the previous jerseys. Lessee-- no other fans stick out in my mind one way or the other.

That article was really funny. Thanks for posting.

MicheleS said...

Sean. It usually happens when the Phillies are in town.

NatsLady said...

Er, crowd, not crown. The lines for vendors can be long, but I've found if you only want a hot dog or sausage, you can walk a few feet and find one without a line.

NatsLady said...

Oh, yeah, Mets fans are fine, friendly, and some are very savvy about the game. There are a lot of Yankee fans around here, in fact, there is a Yankee bar near me (I kid you not, Yanks logo in neon lights) but this will be my first experience with them in our Park.

When I went to Target Field (Twins) and Wrigley Field last summer I had excellent experiences in both as a visitor wearing Nats gear.

Luqman Sh-Hersi said...

I think its something we need to get used to, because our pitching staff I think is the deepest in baseball with seven quality players who are innings eaters and can get deep into games and become power pitcher. The bats and hitting will get there, I think we need to calm ourselves, its just one game and they were playing in bad weather. We as fans need to slow ourselves down yet, they are good on paper, but can they be good by performance? Desmond still need to produce every game, I am still not sold on him as a leadoff hitter. He is still an average player and they found ways to win. We need to be patient as fans and let the team develop. They are not a playoff team yet, and they have plenty of time to develop and play the game the right way. If they can get healthy and play smart, then I do see them as a playoff team.

Sean Kelly said...

Many thanks all - any beer gardens yet on or close to the river? I plan on getting there pretty early and hope to take in the say and people watch before hand.

sm13 said...

1a: Cat Ballou is one of my favorite movies of alltime. Your comparison is spot on. I see a lot of Kid Shelleen in Lidge -the old gunslinger out to resurrect his name and legacy.

And on another note - Curt Shilling can just put a lid on it. We've heard it all before and we'll hear it when they give Stras his 3rd Cy Young.

"Cat Ballou, she's mean and evil through and through" They don't write 'em like that anymore!

SFNats said...

I've heard other analysts express concern about Strasburg's delivery too. Many of them also have been predicting Tim Lincecum's downfall for 5 straight years. Eventually they will be right.

It's baseball talking heads filling airtime and column inches. No different than political "pundits". The thing is, there are a lot of notable young pitchers who blew out their arms and/or never lived up to their promise -- Prior, Wood, Mulder, Zito, and on and on. And no one really knows why it happens to some guys and not others. Pitching a ball overhand puts unnatural strain on the arm. Some people can handle it and some people can't.

So anytime a promising young fireballer comes along, the talking heads start tossing out their theories on why he will break. And if he does, they can say "told you so" and if he doesn't, they can move on to predicting that the next young phenom will break. It's just a meaningless sideshow.

NatsLady said...

bdrube-- Rizzo did quite a bit of what you might call "dumpster diving" this off-season and this spring. The difference is that he's got the scout's eye, and he's got Davey who has also managed or scouted these guys.

You look at DeRosa, Tracy, Nady, these are not future NL MVP candidates. But can they be helpful if properly used? Probably.

Section 3, My PFB Sofa said...

"Dumpster diving" implies no one else would sign them.
You cannot fairly say that about Lidge or DeRosa, and probably not Tracy or Nady, either.

SFNats said...

"Dumpster diving" is when you go for castoffs like Milledge and Dukes and think you can turn them into starters or stars. Signing veteran guys who might have a little left in the tank to anchor your bench is just smart management.

Section 3, My PFB Sofa said...

Unlike, say, this (no disrespect to Kip Wells, but...)

White Sox To Sign Kip Wells
By Ben Nicholson-Smith [April 6, 2012 at 9:15am CST]

The White Sox agreed to sign right-hander Kip Wells to a minor league deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Wells, 34, last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2009. He broke in with the 1999 White Sox and spent three seasons in Chicago before the White Sox traded him to Pittsburgh. Wells reached 93 mph in a recent workout with the Mets.


Meanwhile, in other Chicago news:
Cubs Interested In John Lannan
By Ben Nicholson-Smith [April 6 at 7:48am CST]

The Cubs inquired about John Lannan this week, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Cubs had already talked to the Nationals about Lannan and another left-hander: former Cubs pitcher Tom Gorzelanny. Marlon Byrd came up in discussions between the two teams, Wittenmyer reports.

Lannan requested a trade after being optioned to the minor leagues earlier this week. GM Mike Rizzo said there's "mild" interest in the 27-year-old, but manager Davey Johnson said the Nationals are "not trading him."

Lannan posted a 3.70 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 184 2/3 innings last year. He’ll earn $5MM in 2012 and will remain under team control in 2013 (he currently projects as a non-tender candidate, however).

Feel Wood said...

Positively Half St. said...
I second the sentiment that a curly W makes the morning brighter.


From now on, whenever Strasburg gets the win they should start calling it an Inverted Curly W just to piss Schilling and the others off.

sm13 said...

Let's juat give the Cubs Gorzo back and call it a day.

Section 3, My PFB Sofa said...

Gorzelanny is a useful lefty reliever, at least. Why on earth would they want to do that?

SFNats said...

Maybe Schilling will go to DC with the ESPN crew for Sunday Night Baseball in April, and the fans can boo the heck out of him.

Anonymous said...

While it's a small sample size of course, that bench some complained about during the spring sure came through yesterday eh?

jeeves said...

Section 222--Desi's 2010 season--27 d, 4t, 10 hr, 17 sb, 269 ba. Not that bad for a rookie shortstop. Will concede that 34 errors is not too impressive by any standards although the Cub's Castro, over the two years is worse than Desi's. Yes i'm aware he can hit.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks, sm13. One of my fave movies, too, and my thoughts were along the same lines. We even have a (Mc)Catt with the team. :-)

sm13 said...

1a: Cat Ballou is one of my favorite movies of alltime. Your comparison is spot on. I see a lot of Kid Shelleen in Lidge -the old gunslinger out to resurrect his name and legacy.

On another note, was Wells the one who had some sort of blood vessel issue that affected his pitching arm at one point?

Section 3, My PFB Sofa said...

Unlike, say, this (no disrespect to Kip Wells, but...)

White Sox To Sign Kip Wells
By Ben Nicholson-Smith [April 6, 2012 at 9:15am CST]

The White Sox agreed to sign right-hander Kip Wells to a minor league deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Wells, 34, last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2009. He broke in with the 1999 White Sox and spent three seasons in Chicago before the White Sox traded him to Pittsburgh. Wells reached 93 mph in a recent workout with the Mets.

Section 3, My PFB Sofa said...

Good memory, 1a!

Wells/Pirates

bdrube said...

@Section 3, My PFB Sofa - Given how late Lidge signed (January 26th) and for how little, it seems not many other teams were willing to take a chance, thinking he was damaged goods (very similar to Dmitri). Rizzo gets the credit for seeing value where many others obviously did not.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

NatsLady said...

I had to laugh on Twitter some Phillies fan saying get ready for Lidge to cause you heartburn. Hey--Phan--our whole team is one big messa heartburn. We got this.

Of course. Why else do you think the official drink of Nats Insiders is bourbon and Maalox?

gonatsgo said...

Re: -- the fans -- I have found Mets fans to be interesting. They seem to be families from NY, taking their kids to games. They almost seem embarrassed not to be Yanks fans, too. Pretty quiet people - I have not had any problems with them even in large numbers.

sm13 said...

I must disagree with gonastsgo on one.point. Mets fans are not all "embarrassed " not to be Yankee fans. Most Mets fans are fans due to geography - born in Queens, Brooklyn, or long island. And add to that, like me the child of a Dodger or NY Giant fan. We may be beaten down by a history of tough baseball seasons but we're not embarrassed nor do we yearn to be Yankee fans!

blovy8 said...

Phillies fans are the worst no question, and are much wider than any other fans so as obstacles they are much worse to get around. Met fans edge out the Braves as second for me, but you can joke with them a little more easily generally speaking since their recent misery, a few years ago they were much more obnoxious. They are more likely to actually know some Nats players than the Braves ones are, but that can cut both ways. I can't remember seeing a Braves fan try a chop in the upper deck area where I usually am, but there are more than you'd expect. TBS really did work for that franchise I guess. The random most annoying group of fans I've heard were an entitled group of Padre snobs behind me that whined about the weather, food, walk-up music, everything but the actual game. I guess it was my fault for accepting better seats near the infield. Compared to that, dealing with a South Philly or Brooklyn-accented catcall is child's play.

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