Daily Dose: Lidge blows another one

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Brad Lidge blew his MLB-leading 11th save Wednesday, dropping to 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA. Asked afterward why Lidge continues to receive save chances, Charlie Manuel said: “I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That’s about all I can say. I pull like hell for him every time he goes out there.” Brett Myers isn’t an option because of shoulder problems and Manuel doesn’t trust Ryan Madson. So …
Benjamin Franklin once opined that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, which would make Manuel certifiable. Philadelphia has enough cushion in the NL East that allowing Lidge to cough up lead after lead hasn’t hurt their postseason chances, but all that margin for error vanishes in less than two weeks and the Phillies’ bullpen is as big a mess as ever.
While the “pull like hell for him” approach to managing proves dicey, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Tim Hudson allowed nine hits and two walks in six innings Wednesday, but worked around the many base runners by inducing three double plays among 16 ground-ball outs. Hudson was no sure thing to pitch at all this year after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery last August, but hasn’t missed a beat since returning last month and is now 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA through five starts.
His average fastball has clocked in at 90.1 miles per hour after living between 90.3 and 90.9 in the four seasons prior to going under the knife, his breaking-ball velocity is also similar to pre-surgery levels, and perhaps most importantly he’s maintained the extreme ground-ball tendencies that have long keyed his success. Hudson looks strong so far, but the Braves still have a tough call on his $12 million option for 2010.
* Milton Bradley issued a public statement Wednesday, apologizing to both the Cubs and fans. Meanwhile, the team agreed to make his 15-game suspension with pay so that Bradley and the players’ union wouldn’t raise a stink. In other words, he’ll make about $400,000 to take a two-week vacation and then this offseason the Cubs will do everything possible to shed the two years and $20 million remaining on his contract.
AL Quick Hits: Jermaine Dye finally snapped out of his second-half funk with a pair of homers Wednesday … Josh Beckett made a rare start without Jason Varitek as his catcher Wednesday, winning with Victor Martinez behind the plate … After a brief stint in the bullpen, Francisco Liriano is slated to replace Jeff Manship in the rotation Sunday … Justin Masterson was rocked for eight runs Wednesday, making him 1-5 with a 5.21 ERA since joining the Indians … X-rays on Jorge Posada’s injured foot came back negative, but Jose Molina got the start Wednesday … Matt Wieters went 2-for-4 with a homer Wednesday and is batting .377 this month … Tim Wakefield is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays on a week’s rest … Carlos Guillen homered from both sides of the plate Wednesday as the Tigers stayed 2.5 games up on the Twins … Wade Davis struggled Wednesday after throwing 124 pitches in his last start … Denard Span (head) is hoping to rejoin the lineup Friday.
NL Quick Hits: Bobby Cox announced Wednesday that he’ll return for one more year as Braves manager before moving into a front-office gig … Prince Fielder smacked his 42nd homer Wednesday to take over the NL lead with 131 RBIs … Martin Prado was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup after being hit on the knee by a liner during batting practice … Lou Piniella said Wednesday that the Cubs may opt to shut Rich Harden down for the season … Chad Billingsley returned to the rotation Wednesday with nine strikeouts and a Quality Start … Carlos Ruiz (wrist) could rejoin the lineup by early next week after an MRI exam showed no structural damage … Kevin Hart was rocked for eight runs Wednesday, making him 1-7 with a 6.93 ERA since joining the Pirates … Bud Norris tossed six scoreless innings Wednesday to out-duel John Smoltz … Mark Reynolds broke his own single-season strikeout record and no one really cares … Adam LaRoche stayed hot Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.