Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, September 05, 2011 10:24 PM Comments: 6
Chooch and Cliff. (Photo: AP)
Ah, Cliff Lee. He is pure awesome.
His smoking hot August rolled into September as Lee shutout the Braves in the Phillies 9-0 win. Lee’s scoreless streak is now up to 29 2/3 innings; somehow, some way, he’s shooting to best his ridiculous June. He may have already done it.
Against the Braves on Monday night, there was no laboring on this Day of Labor; he gave up just five hits and did not walk a batter, while striking out six. Atlanta could not even muster an extra-base hit.
Lee is now 6-0 in his last six games with a 0.37 ERA. His last loss came on July 25 against the Padres, over one month ago. Tonight was shutout number six on the season. The numbers continue to be mind-boggling.
Offensively, Lee was given plenty of backing. Ryan Howard blasted his 31st home run of the season in seventh inning, a rope to right center field. Hunter Pence started the scoring in the first inning, knocking in two runs on a single to left field off of Derek Lowe.
Lowe would get shelled, allowing seven runs, five earned, in five innings of work. If Lowe is in the Atlanta rotation in the playoffs – which would appear to be the case – then this Braves team is not looking very strong. With injuries to Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, the Phillies could distance themselves in the standings even more with a winning series as they watch their nearest divisional competition struggle offensively and with their rotation.
Back to tonight and the offense; they rocked it, and rocked it good. Beyond Howard and Pence (Hunter finished 2-for-4 with three RBI), it was a full team effort. Chase Utley went 2-for-5 and nearly went yard with a shot to the warning track in center field. Placido Polanco went 2-for-4. Shane Victorino had a hit and knocked in two runs. All out effort.
But again, it was another gem from Cliff Lee. If he continues at this pace, is an NL Cy Young award out of the question? He may have catapulted past his teammates Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels in the discussion and is neck and neck with Clayton Kershaw. Either way, it’s going to be funner to watch all of these guys pitch down the stretch. It’s just silly that the Phillies have three Cy Young candidates in the same year (and hell, in a strange world, you could throw Antonio Bastardo in there, too). And add that to the fact that the Phillies are doing their best to leave the rest of the league in the dust, it’s more good times on the way.