CINCINNATI -- Everybody who has watched the Phillies this season knows that left-hander Antonio Bastardo has been a savior.
He is 6-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 55 appearances. He has allowed just 19 hits, eight runs and 19 walks in 52 1/3 innings. He has struck out 65. Opponents have hit just .112 against him.
He got Joey Votto to hit into an inning-ending double play in the seventh inning of Thursday's 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. He then struck out the side in the eighth inning.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he hasn't seen a season like this from a reliever since Brad Lidge went 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA and 41 saves in 41 opportunities in 2008.
"I can't say enough about him," Manuel said of Bastardo. "He's had a big year. Bastardo to me is outstanding -- one of the better years I've seen a lefty have."
Forget lefties. Bastardo is having one of the best seasons for a relief pitcher ever.
His .112 opponents' batting average? It currently is the lowest in baseball history for any pitcher with 50 or more innings in a season. Eric Gagne held opponents to a .133 average in 2003, which is the second-best in baseball history.
"It's crazy how dominating he's been," Lidge said. "I've been in a lot of bullpens, with a lot of good pitchers and I don't think I've ever seen anyone doing what he's doing right now."
"He's always had an invisi-ball," Vance Worley said. "It was just a matter of time before he came up here and got to show what he can do. He's doing what he needs to do."
The Phillies hope Bastardo keeps it up. They will need him in the postseason.
"I feel strong," he said.