Lidge won't change his approach
Astros confident their closer will bounce back
CHICAGO -- Brad "Lights Out" Lidge, one of the best closers in the game, watched the ball fly over the outfield wall.
This couldn't be happening. Not another game-winning home run.
Last time it was St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols. This time it was Chicago singles hitter Scott Podsednik, a guy who hadn't homered during the entire regular season.
Last time it meant the Astros would not clinch the National League pennant at home. This time it meant a 7-6 Chicago victory on Sunday night at U.S. Cellular Field that gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the World Series.
When the ball left Podsednik's bat, Lidge didn't think it was gone, but it was, and with it any chance the Astros had of getting out of town with a split.
"You don't expect him to do that, he's not a home run guy during the regular season," Lidge said. "Give him credit. I didn't want to fall behind, 3-1, so I threw him a fastball and he got it. Give a lot of credit to him. It [stinks], but what are you going to do?"
One thing Lidge won't do is start second-guessing himself or changing the approach that helped him rack up 42 saves during the regular season.
"I'm not going to change my approach. I'm going to stick to my guns," Lidge said. "I'm not going to change a thing. I'm ready to get back out there. It was a fastball out over the plate and he hit it. He's not a home run hitter obviously and he did a great job. Unfortunately, it wasn't a great night to be a bullpen guy on either side."
Inevitably, Podsednik's dramatic shot rekindled the question of Lidge's situation, coming as it did on the heels of Pujols' stunner. Once was a tough break, twice could be also, but already some are beginning to wonder if there is more to it than that.
Not Lidge and the Astros.
The right-hander wouldn't blame the miserable conditions and insisted he's fine.
"It was just wrong location," Lidge said. "That [Pujols homer] was a different situation entirely. It's frustrating, but it is what it is, we didn't get this game tonight. It was a tough night to be a bullpen guy for either team and I just happened to be the last one out there. But I'm not going to change my approach. I'm going to give Podsednik a lot of credit and get back out there next time."
As he has his entire career, Lidge faced the media onslaught with the character and dignity he routinely exudes in these situations. He was disappointed obviously, but not devastated.
When asked if he was worried about Lidge's confidence being shaken, catcher Brad Ausmus said: "Not at all. He's fine."
Unfortunately, the Astros are not at the moment. They must find a way to climb out of their 0-2 hole. But at least they will get a chance to do so at Minute Maid Park, where they have won eight of their last 10 postseason games. The series resumes there Tuesday.
"I'll say the next time we have the same situation, it's Tuesday night, he'll be in the ballgame," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "He's my closer. He's our go-to guy. He's going to be fine."
Lidge is hoping to get back out there as soon as possible and prove Garner and Ausmus right.
"You go through stretches where you don't do great. It's magnified obviously because of where we are, but it's really not difficult to move on from, because these things happen. It's happened before in my career. It's too bad it's happening now," Lidge said. "It just seemed to be a good night for the hitters tonight.
"Our bullpen has been tremendous this year, and I don't expect this to rattle anybody in our bullpen. Our guys are mentally strong in our bullpen. I expect us to bounce back. All the guys that threw tonight can't wait to get back on the field."
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.