Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has shown the patience of a saint with scuffling closer Brad Lidge(notes) this season. But even the wacky Manuel is a man with limits, and we might be getting close to some sort of shuffle in the Philadelphia bullpen.
Manuel essentially gave Lidge (7.15 ERA, 10 blown saves) a vote of confidence before Tuesday's game with Washington but the words didn't mean much once the ninth inning rolled around. Lidge entered in a save situation and was all over the place, quickly loading the bases on a hit, a walk, a wild pitch and a hit batsman. Manuel had no choice but to call for help. Ryan Madson(notes) recorded the last two outs, the Phils got their victory, and the questions flowed after the game.
So who's your closer, skip?
"Let me tell you something," Manuel told the assembled media. "When I tell you [Lidge is] my closer, I don't tell lies. I don't like to go back on nothing. But the team and the game is bigger than my heart, and it's bigger than anything else, if you want to know the truth. Winning a game is what it's all about. It's baseball and why I manage and it's what comes first."
Who closes if a situation comes up Wednesday? That depends on who you ask. Manuel told MLB.com that Lidge could be the guy; meanwhile, Lidge said he was told by Manuel that he would get the ball if the game needed closing. Obviously Madson has to be seen as an intriguing hedge, and don't forget that Brett Myers(notes) recently joined the bullpen. This situation probably will be in flux for the rest of the year and through the playoffs.
• Alex Gordon(notes) is back with the Royals after a three-week stint with Triple-A Omaha. Gordon got his confidence back in the minors (.313, 16 runs, two homers, 10 RBIs) and isn't a bad spec play if you're in a deeper league. Gordon didn't play Tuesday but will likely be in Wednesday's lineup.
There's another angle to this story that bears mentioning – because the Royals waited until Tuesday to bring Gordon back to the majors, he can't become a free agent until after the 2012 season. Intentionally or not the Royals bought another year of player control with this move. Gordon was diplomatic about the situation when asked about it, but he also mentioned that he would discuss this more with his agent in the offseason. Clip and save.
• A sore lower back kept Tim Lincecum(notes) from making his scheduled turn against the Padres on Tuesday. It's going to be a couple of days before we know his status for the rest of the week. Highly-regarded prospect Madison Bumgarner(notes) was recalled for the spot start and didn't look out of place, pitching 5.1 credible innings (5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, video here). Bumgarner, a 20-year-old lefty, is going to be on our draft radar for years to come; he's got a nifty 1.93 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 107 Triple-A innings this year.
• Make it six quality starts in seven turns for Clay Buchholz(notes), who cruised through seven scoreless frames against Baltimore (3 H, 1 BB, 5 K). It wasn't hard for Buchholz to relax and throw strikes, as his mates clubbed six homers and gave him a comfortable lead to work with all night. He'll get a home turn against the Angels on Monday.
Injury Blog: Michael Young(notes) (hamstring) is already jogging and might be able to rejoin the Rangers on the weekend. … Jake Peavy(notes) (elbow) hasn't given up on the season yet. He'll throw in the bullpen Wednesday and if all goes well he might get a turn with the White Sox next week. … J.A. Happ(notes) (oblique) will miss at least one more start as the Phillies take it easy with him. … Casey Blake(notes) (hamstring) missed his fourth straight start Tuesday, with Ronnie Belliard(notes) once again going in his stead. … A sore neck pushed Manny Parra(notes) to the bench after just one inning of work. … Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) (shoulder) has one more rehab start in the minors and then will likely rejoin the Red Sox rotation. None for me, thanks. … Milton Bradley(notes) had two at-bats in Chicago's blowout win, then left with a minor leg injury. … Troy Tulowitzki(notes) (back) didn't start Tuesday and remains day-to-day.
Speed Round: A tip of the cap to Carlos Beltran(notes) (knee), who was determined to get back on the field this year no matter that the Mets are toast. Beltran finally hit the bigs on Tuesday, going 1-for-4 with a double. … Julio Borbon(notes) went off in the first game of the Texas-Cleveland doubleheader (two homers, steal), then watched in the nightcap as the Rangers were facing a left-handed starter. … Zach Duke(notes) allowed seven first-inning runs to the Cubs and basically he's been batting practice all through the second half. … Fernando Rodney(notes) has appealed his three-game suspension for chucking a ball into the press box last week. Good luck with that case, son. … Wade Davis(notes) will stick in the Tampa Bay rotation with Andy Sonnanstine(notes) mercifully getting dropped again. … Possible streamers for Thursday's slate: Jarrod Washburn(notes) at Kansas City (he's had success here); Ryan Rowland-Smith(notes) in Anaheim (tough assignment but he looks legit); Sean West(notes) at New York (albeit this looked safer before Beltran and David Wright(notes) came back).