Here is a rundown of the incredible night Cliff Lee had, from first pitch to the last words spoken in the clubhouse.
Cliff Lee by inning:
1st inning: Five pitches, really? The Red Sox are notorious for working counts, but they came out of the gate with what seemed to be a plan to swing early in the count. It didn’t work as Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez were set down in the blink of an eye.
2nd inning: The Sawx worked counts to the tune of 13 pitches, but still without any luck. Kevin Youkilis drew a leadoff walk, which seemed like an unintentional-intentional walk. Lee then struck out two for another fast frame.
3rd inning: Now they’re working it! Boston managed to see 14 pitches that inning, mostly due to Marco Scutaro’s lengthy at-bat. Ryan Howard made a great stab on a late-swinging line drive off the bat of Josh Beckett. Hardest hit ball of the night to that point.
4th inning: Pedroia began the inning with a lazy fly out to Dom Brown. Gonzalez then worked a full count before popping up to Chase Utley. Lee looked to have him struck out on a nasty curveball on the inside corner, but it was called a ball by Derryl Cousins. No worries there against the guy I called the best player in baseball on Tuesday. Youkilis then K’d on a perfectly placed inside fastball, giving Lee 27 consecutive scoreless innings.
5th inning: Make that a career high 27 1/3 scoreless as Darnell McDonald pops out to start the inning. Then Jason Varitek lazily grounded out to Placido Polando and Mike Cameron hit maybe the hardest ball up until this point, flying out to Brown about 2 steps in front of the track in right field. Still no hits. Pitch count: 59, 38 strikes.
6th inning: And there it ends. Marco Scutaro singles to center to end the no-hit bid. Beckett promptly grounds into a 6-3 double play right after the first hit. Lee would then get Ellsbury to ground out softly to Howard. I’d say Lee is locked in, but it’s like he’s on another planet at this point. The Red Sox are the most feared offense in baseball and they are having trouble putting a charge into anything. This is one of the most dominating stretches of pitching I’ve ever seen.
7th inning: “The Laser Show,” Pedroia walks to lead off. The victor of the third showdown between Adrian Gonzalez and Cliff Lee is again Lee. He gets A-Gone to be gone with a fly out to center. Gonzalez has crushed him in his career, but that ends here. Lee then ends the inning on a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Kevin Youkilis. 30 scoreless innings and counting. This guy is insane.
8th inning: It’s the Red Sox first threat of the game. Hitting .104, Darnell McDonald lines a double down the left field line. Holding the Sox for seven full innings without reaching second base is exceptional. Jimmy Rollins follows that up with an exceptional 6-3 putout, grabbing a wicked short hop off the bat of Varitek. Made it look simple. Lee then buckles Mike Cameron’s knees on a wicked curve to retire him. Scutaro ends the inning on a weak grounder. The beat goes on. Really cool being here to watch Cliff Lee pitch every five days.
9th inning: Finished. Pinch-hitter Drew Sutton (who?) sit down. Jacoby Ellsbury sharp ground out, thanks for playing. Dustin Pedroia, good night. Complete game shutout, once again. He’s good. 112 pitches, 71 strikes, one baffled Boston lineup.
They did it:
-Domonic Brown homered for the 5th time this season, making everyone forget about his failing to run out a ground ball a few nights ago. He had a very patient swing against Josh Beckett and crushed it into the lower bullpen. Beautiful swing.
-Shane Victorino continues his hot hitting. He launched a two-run shot to right field, his 9th this season.
-Cliff Lee’s deep sacrifice fly easily scored Dom Brown in the fifth inning. The guy can do it all, and he takes pride in that.
-The Phillies as a team became the first franchise in the league to surpass 2 million fans through the turnstiles. Quite an incredible feat. I will say, however, that I was upset by the face that so many people left early before Lee was poised to finish yet another strikeout. You’re witnessing history, folks!
-The Phillies moved to 50-30 on the season. Let that sink in.
Cliff did it:
-Only two players in Phillies history have thrown 3 straight complete game shutouts, Robin Roberts and Grover Alexander. Alexander threw 4 straight in 1911.
-It was his 4th shutout this season, he also blanked the Nats in April. That makes nine for his career.
-From Jayson Stark: This is Lee’s 5th start vs an AL team since last October. Totals: 40 IP, 20 H, 2 R, 48 K.
-His ERA for the month: 0.21. Can’t June be just a little longer?
-In June, he lowered his ERA from 3.94 to 2.66.
-Lee is up to a career best 32 inning scoreless streak. The Phillies record is 41 2/3.
-He’s the sixth pitcher to post a scoreless streak of 30 or more innings in franchise history. This is now the fifth longest in team history (RP’s included).
-Lee is now one of just three active players to hold a streak of 32 or more innings without a run, joining Zack Greinke (34.0) and Brandon Webb (41.0).
They said it:
-“We played a complete game today and we have my last few starts. That’s the key to winning. You gotta pitch well, you gotta play defense, and you gotta score runs, and your bullpen’s gotta pitch well. That’s the key to winning.” – Cliff Lee
-When asked if the historical part of the game means anything to Lee: “Not right now. I mean, later when I’m done with my career, that’s something I can be proud of. At this point, it’s good, but it’s not time to pat myself on the back for anything right now.”
-Lee when asked about whether this game had some added zing to it: “June is a long ways away from the playoffs. It definitely got really loud there at the end in the ninth inning…that’s fun to play in front of, but it’s definitely not the postseason.”
-Dom Brown on the atmosphere: “I mean it was a lot more electric out there, with the fans and everything like that.”
-Brown on what Charlie Manuel has said about his hitting: “Charlie’s right, I’m getting in great counts, I’m just not capitalizing on those hitters counts…I’ve been working the count since I’ve been here, and been doing an excellent job doing that…I’m trying hit the ball out of the ballpark instead of, you know, just hitting it hard somewhere.”