The Phillies' four game set with the Cubs continues this afternoon on Fox, as strikeout phenom Cliff Lee (5-5, 3.62) takes the hill against Chicago's Matt Garza (2-5, 4.07). After last night's 7-5 victory, the series is tied at one a piece, so the Fightins will have to win today for the chance to take the series on Sunday.
This morning's electrical storm must have been caused by the Phillies, who experienced a sudden surge of power during yesterday's W. Domonic Brown went for a two-run blast in the second inning to give Roy Halladay some breathing room, and Placido Polanco blew the game open with a grand slam in the seventh, the two home runs accounting for six of the club's seven runs.
It's a good thing too, as Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero did everything they could to give to give the game away. Contreras was charged with four earned in a 0.1 innings of relief, and Romero allowed another run while failing to record an out. All together, they gave up five runs on four hits and three walks in the eighth, before Michael Stutes came in and restored order.
Despite their "best" efforts, Doc wound up earning his Major League leading ninth win anyway, while Antonio Bastardo picked up his second save.
Lee will look to continue his winning ways today, and also try to regain the MLB lead in strikeouts over teammate Halladay, who is up to 106. The two are separated by six strikeouts, and while it's a flashy statistic that isn't necessarily important, it's becoming kind of fun to follow. Cole Hamels is also in the top ten with 91.
Cliff last faced the Cubbies while he was a member of the Seattle Mariners last June, throwing a complete game win and striking out nine, and only allowing a solo home run to Tyler Colvin. He's 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four lifetime appearances versus Chicago.
You may recall his opponent was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays during their World Series run in 2008. Garza started Game 3, allowing four runs in six innings of work for a no decision in the eventual 5-4 loss. The Phils peppered the home crowd with solo shots from Carlos Ruiz in the second, then Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back-to-back in the sixth.
The former first round pick of the Minnesota Twins rebounded in his last meeting against Philly in '09--his only other appearance versus PHI--going eight strong with one earned run in an interleague win. The 27-year-old has been up and down in his first season as a Cub. In his last outing, he was removed after just four for his fifth loss of the season, but went 1-0 and only gave up one score in his previous two starts.
Who knows what kind of offensive production we'll see against Garza, but the only Phillies to hit in that June '09 meeting were Jayson Werth, Matt Stairs, and Greg Dobbs, none of whom are on the team tonight, and this is a far different lineup from the one that mashed their way by him in the World Series. Key to the game will be which Garza, and which offense, show up today.