After giving up a total of 10 earned runs over his previous two starts, Cliff Lee took the mound against the Dodgers on Monday night looking for a stellar performance. The offense behind him needed that as well, limp overall lately and not much better in the series opener with the Dodgers. Fortunately, Lee came to the park ready to handle LA's lineup, and the Phils' offense put up just enough support for a 3-1 win.
Lee threw 10 strikeouts over seven innings, already his sixth double-digit K game of the season in just 13 starts. Reuben Frank pointed out that it's the most double-digit strikeout games by a Phillie since Curt Schilling threw 15 in 1998, and ESPN Stats relays that Lee comfortably leads the majors in starts with 10+ K's and one walk or fewer (he has five such starts, and no one else has more than two).
The Phils had a quiet night at the dish, notching only six hits. A two-run third inning would prove to be all they needed, with Polly singling in Wilson Valdez, who had led off the frame with a double, and Ryan Howard plating Shane Victorino, who reached on a free pass.
After Carlos Ruiz added an insurance run by doubling in Chase Utley in the eighth, Ryan Madson leaked the Dodgers a run in the top of the ninth, but finished strong in striking out Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro to close out his 13th save of the season.
It was Lee's night though, with a sharp curve biting the Dodgers most of the night. First baseman Casey Blake was so pissed after being rung up on a called third strike that he got himself tossed for arguing. Hard not to enjoy that.
It's been a frustrating stretch for watching the Phils' offense, but a pitching performance like Lee put up on Monday night can help to ease that pain a bit. Gotta like the timing too—the Phillies surrendered their first round pick in the 2011 amateur draft to sign Lee. I think we can live with that.
The Phils selected OF Larry Greene with their first pick, #39 overall. Greene is out of Berrien High School in Georgia. For more on Greene, we send you to the one and only Phuture Phillies.
Photo: Howard Smith-US Presswire