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Cliff Lee Is A Bad, Bad Man

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, June 22, 2011 10:54 PM | Comments: 22
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“On this night, the Phillies ace trumped all the Cards.” – Arlene Cov

I don’t know what your expectations for the regular season were, but it’s hard to imagine the first 75 games of 2011 disappointing anyone.

The Phillies picked up their 47th win Wednesday night, riding nine spectacular shutout innings from Cliff Lee to a 4-0 victory. The Phillies were six games worse through this many games last year, at 41-34. They wouldn’t tally 47 wins until Game 87 of 2010.

Wednesday’s was a satisfying win all around – Lee extended his scoreless innings streak to 23, lowering his ERA to 2.87 in the process. All of the sudden, the Phillies have not one, not two, but three of the top four Cy Young candidates in the National League. There is plenty of baseball left to play, but all peripheral numbers point to Halladay-Hamels-Lee being the pitchers most capable of sustaining such a high level of performance. Jair Jurrjens may have an eye-popping ERA but his control and batted ball numbers don’t indicate that he’ll stick around in the Cy conversation much longer. Contrarily, Halladay-Hamels-Lee are 1-2-3 in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio and among the Top 17 in swinging strikes. There are no metrics more indicative of future success than K/BB and whiff rate. What an embarrassment of riches.

As fan page, “Phillies’ Magical Season” eloquently put it on Facebook, all the Phillies need to win is one good half inning. It sure seems that way, doesn’t it? With the way this trio has pitched of late, any crooked number feels safe. And security after the fourth inning of a game is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Lee’s first seven pitches of the night were all outside the strike zone, and they were not movement-filled balls like Halladay’s on Tuesday night. Doc was missing the plate because his two-seamer had too much life and backward movement to righties. Lee was just simply leaving balls up in the zone. But after walking Ryan Theriot and going 3-0 to Jon Jay, Lee asked for a new baseball and that was that. He was out of the inning five pitches later.

Two innings later, Lee allowed a leadoff double to opposing pitcher, Kyle Lohse. Second baseman Pete Kozma followed with a sharp grounder up the middle that Lee somehow snared in mid-air, throwing Kozma out at first. It was yet another in a season filled with stellar defense from Sir Clifton. Not since Greg Maddux has a star pitcher so routinely, athletically and gracefully fielded the mound.

Theriot followed with a single, but Lee then induced a 5-4-3 double play ball from Jay. The execution from Placido Polanco, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard was perfect, and it created an intangible energy heading into the fourth inning. When you watch so many innings of baseball, you get the feel for when guys are the “right kind” of amped and confident. This play was a momentum-builder, leading me to tweet that the Phils would score twice next inning.

Sure enough, Rollins homered to start the fourth and Howard later went oppo to give the Phils a 3-0 lead. With the way Lee was dealing, the game felt over at that very point.

An insurance run was tacked on later, when Shane Victorino tripled and scored on an Utley sac fly. Lee didn’t need it, though. He blanked the Cardinals for his second straight complete game shutout. It’s been quite a run for the beloved lefty – he’s allowed one run in his last 33 innings, shaving more than a full run off his ERA in four starts.

Wednesday was unbelievably the Phillies’ tenth shutout in 75 games, a mark not reached since 1964. Roy Oswalt looks to continue the trend of great pitching tomorrow night at 8:15. He’ll need to bounce back from several mediocre outings. His fastball has been rather flat and he is not generating anywhere near the amount of strikeouts he did before the fateful Arizona game.

Here’s hoping Roy O. get’s back on track.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

 
 
  • Posts: 64 Jonathan Nisula

    Avatar of Jonathan Nisula

    Cliff Lee.

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    Lee is back nice. Contreras back on the Dl i had a hunch last two days this will happen. RAJ is looking for bullpen help.

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Feels good to have the best record in MLB
    A team ERA this low is almost impossible.

    &baseballScope=mlb&statType=2&sitSplit=&timeSubFrame=2011&groupByTeam=true&Submit=Submit&timeFrame=1

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

     
  • Posts: 2068 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    What a June so far by Lee- too bad he only has 1 more start this month (Sox at home 6/28). All of a sudden, June is the month I want to go on for a while longer (June has not proven to be one of the Phils more prolific months in recent history).

    13-7 so far this month with 7 more to go, the final 6 at home. Like Pat has said over and over, who knows what the Phils are going to do offensively? They have been sizzling at home so far this month – a hot offense vs the Red Sox would make a great series. Even if the Phils finish 4-3 for June, 17 wins in June would put us at 20 games over .500 before the AS break….

    I happened on to one of the local sports gas shows yesterday and they were asking should we just skip forward to the Post Season – Hell no! This is as much fun as the post season!

    I dont know about the rest of you but 83′ to me was stupid. Phils were plain sucky until September when Morgan caught on fire. When he ran out of gas in the WS they folded to the Orioles (Hey, he was either 40 or close to it..) but Morgan hit like .226 for the year. That does not excite me, this is what I expect out of the Phils. Domination this year.

    Not asking for much eh?

     
  • Posts: 0 ray

    Maybe it’s been mentioned before but it’s worth repeating, Roy Oswalt is known for being at his best in the second half.

     
  • Posts: 2068 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    Ray, so are the Phils in general. Joe Blanton (if he comes back), Ryan Howard, Colbert Hamels – its hard to believe that the best baseball for the Phils might be coming up – when we are already 19 games over .500!

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    This is why it was/is pointless for people to try to rank and re-rank our starters every week . . . they are all great… and I think if the playoffs started today we’d see Halladay, Lee, as our 1-2

    making Cole Hamels the world’s best #3 pitcher

     
  • Posts: 2068 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    Ahhh – you’re doing it Don! You are ranking them
    Personally, I would say Cole, Doc then Lee…

    Cole will lead the league in wins this year, probably not ERA but close to it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    I think its safe to say that this team hasn’t even come close to playing its best baseball yet. not nearly firing on all cylinders. wait til howard heats up and oswalt finds a groove and we get blanton back. this is a juggernaut boys!

     
  • Posts: 2068 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    Does anybody know the timetable for Joe?
    Personally, his coming back does not excite me. Worley is scheduled on Friday (this will be the third time I see him 1-1 with a ND) then he would be the likely starter on the 30th vs the Red Sox – unless Cholly changes his mind or JB comes around (I am scheduled for that game too)

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    my point was the way that things were layed out to start the season were done for a reason . . . and a “slow” start by Lee got corrected, as expected …

    so going on their full body of work … we shouldn’t expect much change to the rotation (aka, their ranking) come playoff time …and if the want to have the RHP, LHP, RHP, LHP thing going still . . . since Oswalt has great postseason stuff

     
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    The Boston series will be tough, and I’m not overlooking the A’s either. If they have enough pitching to sweep the Giants, they could be trouble.

    Worley, Hamels, Halladay v the A’s should leave Lee, Oswalt, fifth starter v the Bosox. I sure would like to have Hamels and Halladay for them, but maybe it’s better they don’t face them. If things break right, they will get their chance soon enough.

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I dont want to see us break from our normal rest/rotation just because we’re facing Boston . . . that game counts just the same in the standings as a game vs. the Nats, Astros, etc

     
    • Posts: 0 Lefty

      I doubt they will, and of course regular season games all count the same. You’ve missed my point – that the Nats and Houston can’t hit and score like Boston can.

      It’s an embarrassment of riches that allows suggesting such thing anyway. I have plenty of confidence in the guys we’ll have pitching to them.

       
  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    Pitching and fielding – pitching and fielding!

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    No i know… but you shouldn’t make changes to try to win this one game… game 3 vs. Boston . . . if it will lessen your chances of winning game 1 and game 2 of the next series by having guys on short rest heading into the All-Star break

    I understand that we’ll need to limit their offense as best we can to have our best chance to win that ONE game . . . . but lets not sacrifice future games in the process.. If they were willing to start kendrick and worley etc in the past month to keep everyone on schedule, I think we’ll see the same from here on out . . . if it’s #5′s turn to pitch .. that’s either Worley or Kendrick vs Boston. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they pitch Lackey that game!

     
    • Posts: 1189 Manny

      Avatar of Manny

      I’m shocked by Lackey’s epic collapse… wasn’t he supposed to be one of the best not too long ago? The Angels’ ace who carried them into the playoffs not too long ago…. WTH happened to him!?

       
  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    The only pitcher they have announced is Miller in the first game 0-0 4.76- that’s all I know about him. But it looks like we get lucky if there are no rain outs, we will miss Wakefield. He has been pitching well, and we don’t seem to fare well against knuckleballers.

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    Not sure Brooks doesnt look like he’ll be back for at least another 2 weeks. Schneider should be up soon. I wonder who is the worst hitter him or Sardine man. Hmmm i think Schneider is a little better at this point. .

     
    • Posts: 1189 Manny

      Avatar of Manny

      Schneider is a very good offensive catcher… way, WAY better than Sardinha.. Not even close.

       
      • Posts: 0 Lefty

        He’s much better defensively too.

         
 
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