05/09/09 4:10 PM ET
Lidge unconcerned with non-save issues
Dominant in '08, Phils closer has yet to get into groove
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
He allowed a three-run homer Friday in the Phillies' 10-6 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. It made him 0-1 with an 8.49 ERA (11 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings) with four saves in five opportunities this season. Lidge also has allowed an eye-popping five homers.
Consider that Lidge didn't allow his 11th run in 2008 until his 43rd appearance July 25.
The veteran closer also allowed just two home runs all year.
"One thing my few bad outings had in common is that after I've given up a home run or whatever, I've kind of put in my head, 'OK, it's a one-run lead. Pitch like it. The next three guys I'll get out,'" Lidge said before Saturday's game against the Braves. "That's the approach for me to have right now with two weeks since my last save opportunity. I've got to get out there and tell myself it's a one-run lead and pitch like it and get it done that way."
Lidge had pitched just three times since April 25, when he battled inflammation in his right knee. That also happened to be his last save opportunity.
"Obviously, I haven't thrown the ball well," Lidge said. "And it's embarrassing, to be honest with you, to give up this many home runs. That being said, I feel fine. I'm encouraged that my stuff is getting better. I feel like my slider is great right now. Yeah, I'm making mistakes with my fastballs and right now, they're not missing."
Closers often talk about pitching in non-save situations.
The adrenaline isn't quite the same.
The focus isn't quite as sharp.
Lidge, who said his right knee feels fine, walked Brian McCann to lead off the ninth inning Friday. Jeff Franceour followed with a double and Casey Kotchman followed with a three-run homer.
"I didn't have my location, but sometimes with a big lead you think, 'Just throw fastballs,'" Lidge said. "With me, honestly, I get a lot more strikes with my slider. It's an easier pitch for me to throw for strikes right now. So, after that we started throwing sliders and the inning went well.
"A lot of guys will say, 'I need to get my breaking ball down by throwing my fastball.' But I get my fastball under control by throwing my breaking pitches. The great thing right now is we've had a window and I haven't had time to really throw consistently. Obviously, I've altered my mechanics a little bit, so it's good to get some work in right now. Obviously, I want better results, but I'm not as discouraged as if this were happening in one-run games."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.