Closing Time: Sweet relief for Lidge owners

Andy Behrens
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Today isn't about baseball. No, today we find ourselves confronting an existential crisis.

If Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel – the man who popularized the phrase "He's still our closer" – can lose faith in Brad Lidge(notes), then why should any of us believe in anything?

On Wednesday, with Lidge available, Manuel summoned Ryan Madson(notes) from the Phillies' bullpen to save a 6-5 win over the Nats.

Madson allowed a leadoff single to Justin Maxwell(notes) (Lidge style!) followed by a stolen base (Lidge woulda wild-pitched) before striking out Cristian Guzman(notes) (Lidge goes HBP there), then getting a line-out double play from Adam Dunn(notes) (Lidge prefers the walk-off bomb in that situation).

After the game, Manuel had this to say to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"Lidge will get the chance to save games for us," Manuel said. "But tonight I wanted to use Madson." … Asked which reliever he would use in a potential save situation tonight, the manager said, "I don't know. We'll just wait and see."

This is terrible. The phrase "He's still our closer" had such utility. We'd begun using it as a way to demonstrate commitment to anyone who failed spectacularly at their job. (Waiter sets your date on fire with flaming appetizer? "He's still our closer." Surgeon removes wrong kidney? "He's still our closer.") But now it appears we'll have to modify the wording. "He'll get the chance to save games for us" just doesn't express the same blind, senseless dedication. Too bad.

Don't count Brett Myers(notes) out of the ninth inning picture in Philly just yet. This via the AP:

Although Manuel said he may continue to use Madson or Brett Myers along with Lidge in the closer role, he feels Lidge can return to last season’s form.

Lidge is presently 5.16 earned runs per nine innings off last season's form, so it's hardly an easy return.

In other news…

Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca says closer Huston Street(notes) (biceps) is progressing, but the thought of him returning this weekend is just "too optimistic." Lefty Franklin Morales(notes) has been terrific in Street's absence, converting five straight save opportunities while scattering three hits and two walks over five innings.

Rajai Davis(notes) and Everth Cabrera(notes) each stole two bases on Wednesday, bringing their season totals to 34 and 23. Fine contributions there from a pair of mid-season free agent adds. Next year, those two aren't likely to be so cheap. Davis is the new Taveras.

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Lou Piniella and Carlos Zambrano(notes) had an animated discussion. They did not – repeat, they did not – have an argument. Don't be ridiculous. We're talking about two levelheaded dudes. (Video here, beginning at 1:03). Zambrano described the nature of the dugout conversation this way:

"Everybody thought we were arguing," Zambrano said. "We weren't. We were talking normally. Every time Lou talks, it seems like he's mad. The way he moves his hands, it looks like he's mad.

"The way he talks to the players, he's very professional," Zambrano said.

Brian Fuentes(notes) earned a save for the Angels, pitching a clean inning against the Ms and stranding a pair of inherited runners. "It’s nice to come out and be successful after you haven’t been,” said Fuentes, who had just blown a save chance the night before. The lefty's fantasy ratios aren't pretty (3.99, 1.33) and he's torture to watch, but there's really no arguing with 40 saves.

This Seth Smith(notes) revival is mildly annoying. Some of us carried him in May in NL-only leagues, waiting for signs of life/hope. Smith is batting .471/.513/1.000 so far in September, long after the drop. He battled Francisco Cordero(notes) in an 800-pitch at-bat last night, ultimately hitting a game-ending two-run single that Brandon Phillips(notes) could have had. (Video).

Randy Wolf(notes) received a cortisone injection to address elbow irritation and he's expected to miss at least one start. The trainer says, "It doesn’t seem to be really serious," so don't panic if you were planning to ride Wolf to fantasy glory.

Alex Gordon(notes) made his triumphant return to the Kansas City lineup, going 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. That effort bumped his average over the .200 mark for the first time since Wichita 2006 August 16, shortly before he was exiled. Billy Butler(notes) hit his usual three doubles in KC's 5-1 win over the Tigers.

For streamers only: If you absolutely must add probable starters because you're chasing wins and Ks at the end of the head-to-head week, we're prepared to look the other way while you pick up Justin Masterson(notes) vs. the Royals (25 percent owned), Nick Blackburn(notes) vs. the A's (33 percent) or JD Martin(notes) at the Marlins (three percent).

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Manuel photo via US Presswire