Lidge's secret: Just forget about it
Pujols's home run is a thing of the past
Brad Lidge forgot about Albert Pujols's mammoth playoff homer a long time ago. Maybe now that he's had a perfect season, people will stop reminding him.
Lidge didn't wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats thinking about Pujols. Didn't have constant flashbacks, either. No matter how often others mention Pujols's shot in the 2005 National League Championship Series, the Philadelphia Phillies' closer is over it.
"I've been through such highs and lows that it's helped give me good perspective and a good balance of where I'm at," Lidge said. "I actually look at it like it's a positive thing. It happened and it's made me mentally tougher and I think that's helped me a lot this year."
If it really made Lidge better, Philadelphia should send Pujols a thank you card because the Phillies wouldn't be where they are without the hard-throwing All-Star righthander.
The two-time NL East champion Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers play for a berth in the World Series, starting with Game 1 tomorrow night in Philadelphia. That means Lidge gets another chance to pitch in the NLCS.
"I'd like to get back and win the World Series and have that be the last image in my mind for the postseason," he said.
Lidge rejuvenated his career with his new team after Houston traded him last November. He was 41 for 41 in save chances during the regular season and converted two more in the first round against Milwaukee.
Dating to last season, Lidge has 46 straight saves, counting the last two against the Brewers. Only two relievers had a longer streak. Eric Gagné saved 84 straight for the Dodgers from 2002-04. Tom Gordon, currently on Philadelphia's disabled list, saved 54 in a row for the Red Sox in 1998-99.
Lidge already won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award last week and he's a surprise candidate for MVP, though teammate Ryan Howard or Pujols might get that honor.
Lidge established himself as an elite closer with the Astros in 2004, when he had 29 saves and a 1.90 ERA in his second full season in the majors. He was 42 for 46 with a 2.29 ERA in '05. But after allowing that homer to Pujols, Lidge wasn't the same. Houston still beat St. Louis to advance to the World Series, but Lidge lost two games to the Chicago White Sox during a four-game sweep.
He had a 5.28 ERA in 2006, when he saved 32 games in 38 chances. Last year, Lidge went 5-3 with 19 saves and a 3.36 ERA in 66 games.
Most people point to Pujols's homer as the reason for Lidge's struggles. But Lidge says it was merely a coincidence.
"Honestly, it was never related to that," he said. "Mechanically, I was off. I was trying different things, throwing different pitches, adding different pitches. It was a compilation of things."
Marmol hurt in accidentChicago Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol suffered minor injuries in a car accident early yesterday in the Dominican Republic.
A truck hit a car carrying Marmol, a cousin, and a friend in his hometown of Bonao around 2 a.m. The All-Star righthander had just arrived in the Caribbean nation after the Cubs were swept by the Dodgers in the playoffs.
Marmol said in an e-mail to the Associated Press that the air bag deployed and he suffered only a cut and an "inflammation" of his forehead.