Brad Lidge has been through the wringer enough times over the years -- shoot, he's got 225 career saves, not to mention 44 career blown saves -- to know how to handle a little ninth-inning rally.
So when one-half of the Nationals' replacement closer while Drew Storen is injured entered for the top of the ninth last night with his team up 1-0, and then promptly put the first two Astros batters he faced on base, he reassured himself with three words that he always turns to in these situations.
"Trust your stuff," he said. "Trust your stuff and believe in what you've got. I've done it my whole career. And in situations like that where you just have to trust, almost all the time it ends up working."
Indeed it did. After giving up a leadoff double to Jed Lowrie and then walking J.D. Martinez, Lidge buckled down. He got Carlos Lee, Houston's most-accomplished hitter, to loft a weak flyball to center field for the first out.
But then came another tense moment when he fell behind 3-0 to Chris Johnson, really giving himself no margin for error. Once again, Lidge turned to his time-tested mantra: Trust your stuff.
"Honestly, confidence and believing in yourself out there when you're throwing an inning like that, or any save situation, it's just as important as your stuff and location," he said. "Not thrilled to be in that situation, but glad it worked out."
It worked out because Lidge managed to throw a strike to Johnson to move the count to 3-1, then got him to loft another weak flyball to center field for out No. 2. Travis Buck then tapped a grounder to first, Adam LaRoche stepped on the bag and the Nationals' ninth win in 12 games this season was official.
For Nationals fans who have seen Lidge only sparingly over the years when he came to town with the Astros and Phillies, these kind of ninth innings probably produce healthy amounts of stomach acid.
For those who have played alongside the 35-year-old reliever and see him wriggle his way out of these very kind of jams on a regular basis, it's nothing new.
"I was calm and collected out there," said outfielder Jayson Werth, Lidge's former teammate in Philadelphia. "I knew he had it all the way. That's what I told him when we went through the congratulatory line at the end of the game. I said: 'Never a doubt.'"
So what is it that allows Lidge to do what he does?
"I don't know," Werth said. "That's what's made him good for so long. Whatever that is, it's probably tough to pinpoint, and it's probably something you shouldn't even ask him about. But whatever it is, I think he's very capable."