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WORLD SERIES FYI

Phillies' Lidge is not looking into playoff past

October 22, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Shaikin is a Times staff writer.

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — The Tampa Bay Rays are trying the closer du jour approach in this World Series, while the Philadelphia Phillies feature one of the best closers in baseball.

Advantage, Phillies? Not so fast, not based on Brad Lidge's last trip to the playoffs, as closer for the Houston Astros in 2005.

The Houston Astros were one out from the World Series when Lidge gave up a monstrous two-out, three-run home run to Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Astros got to the World Series anyway, but they were swept by the Chicago White Sox. Lidge lost twice, once on a walk-off home run by Scott Podsednik, who had not hit a home run in the regular season.

You might believe Lidge is out for redemption, but he does not.

"Absolutely not," he said. "I don't want to downplay that I gave up a home run.

"But, if anyone who knows baseball looks at my career and at the postseason, it speaks for itself."

In 24 postseason games, Lidge is 5-2 with 11 saves and a 2.23 earned-run average. He has converted all 46 save opportunities this season, including five in the playoffs.

"For me, this is a totally different year and a totally different team," he said. "I don't feel I have anything to prove."

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Feeling a draft

Scott Kazmir and Cole Hamels, selected 15th and 17th in the first round of the 2002 draft, oppose each other in Game 1.

"Being compared at such an early age, and finally being able to compete against each other at this sort of stage, makes things a little better," Hamels said.

Kazmir already has two All-Star appearances to his credit, Hamels one. Yet, the progression from first-round draft pick to staff ace, All-Star and World Series starter is no sure thing.

Kazmir was the eighth pitcher selected in the first round in 2002, Hamels the ninth. The first, Bryan Bullington, has yet to win a major league game. The second and third, Chris Gruler and Adam Loewen, have been released. The fourth, Clint Everts, has not risen above Class A.

The pitchers selected between Everts and Kazmir have blossomed nicely: Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals, Jeff Francis, who started Game 1 of last year's World Series for the Colorado Rockies, and All-Star Joe Saunders of the Angels.

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Rubber ducky

As the Phillies played the Milwaukee Brewers in September, scrambling to make up 3 1/2 games with 16 games left, second baseman Chase Utley told Charlie Manuel to loosen up, making an anatomical reference to his manager and a rubber duck.

The Phillies swept Milwaukee, won 13 of their last 16 games to win the National League East, then went 7-2 to get into the World Series. Manuel decided he needed a way to remind his players to stay loose, not to get caught up in the World Series frenzy.

"So I bought them some rubber ducks," Manuel said. "And every time before they go out on the field, they look up in their lockers and they see a duck. It means for them to play like they always have."

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Sorry, honey

Rays Manager Joe Maddon is getting married in 17 days, too soon for his hair to grow back from his Mohawk cut.

"You're going to see the 'hawk in the wedding photographs, which really upsets Jaye," said Maddon, referring to his fiancee.

But, as the all-for-one Mohawk craze swept the Rays clubhouse in mid-September, Maddon didn't mind joining in.

"It's only hair," Maddon said.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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World Series

Phillies / Rays

Best of seven; * -- if necessary; times PDT; all games on Ch. 11

Game 1: Today, 5:30 p.m.

Philadelphia, Hamels (14-10) at Tampa Bay, Kazmir (12-8)

Game 2: Thursday, 5:30 p.m.

Philadelphia, Myers (10-13) at Tampa Bay, Shields (14-8)

Game 3: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.

at Philadelphia

Game 4: Sunday, 5:30 p.m.

at Philadelphia

Game 5: Monday, 5:30 p.m.

at Philadelphia*

Game 6: Oct. 29, 5:30 p.m.

at Tampa Bay*

Game 7: Oct. 30, 5:30 p.m.

at Tampa Bay*

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