Cliff Lee's June has been absolutely filthy on the mound. He finished the month with a 5-0 record, allowing only one earned run in 42 innings of work (0.21 ERA), but he's also contributed a great deal during his plate appearances.
He helped his own cause in the Phillies 5-0 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night by hitting the first sac-fly of his career in the fifth inning, good for his fifth RBI on the season.
After the game, Cliff talked about how much he enjoys trying to help his team win with a bat in his hands.
"I think it's fun," Lee said. "You feel more like a baseball player in the National League versus the American League. In the American League, you're a pitcher. Over here you've gotta pitch and hit, run the bases, feel like a baseball player. Anything you can do to help the team win you should take pride in it, you should take it serious and try to do the best you can. That's what I try to do with hitting. Like today, I got up to the plate with a runner on third with less than two outs. You gotta take advantage of those opportunities. I don't know how most guys look at it, but I'm trying to hit a sac-fly right there, and I did, so I feel gratification by doing that. It helps the team win, so it's important."
I don't believe Lee was taking a jab at anyone in particular in the AL, but Josh Beckett seemingly demonstrated Cliff's point earlier in the evening when the Red Sox pitcher failed to move a runner over via bunt and eventually ground into a double play. After Beckett chopped a ball to Jimmy Rollins, he gingerly jogged towards first base with the bat in his hands the entire way.
Cliff Lee, on the other hand, prides himself in giving it his all no matter the circumstance. Whether it be trying to beat out a grounder as he attempted to do late in Tuesday's win, or simply sprinting on and off the field between innings.
"I play to win today," Lee said.
And that's why Philadelphia loves him.