You Again: Cliff Lee Meets His Old Texas Buddies

You Again: Cliff Lee Meets His Old Texas Buddies

After a mid-season trade, Cliff Lee left behind his status as cellar-dweller staff anchor and became his new squad's presumptive ace, helping them get to the post-season and powering them to the World Series once there. Incredibly, it's a story in which Clifton Phifer played the lead character in two separate productions, once with each of the teams squaring off at Citizens Bank Park today. Of course, with the Rangers being Lee's most recent supporting cast for the plot, most assumed that he'd be returning to the role for this year and beyond once he became a free agent in the off-season, but much to our surprise and delight, he decided to stick with his original Philly crew for the long haul.

Lee has gotten off to something of a slow start in the first season of his five-year deal with the Fightins, going only 2-4 in his nine starts thusfar. But as has been the case with Cliff in each season since his incredible 22-3 Cy Young campaign in 2008, his record has been a poor indicator of how well he's pitched, with his 3.84 ERA, 68 strikeouts (good for 4h in the league) and just 13 walks, nearly half of which came in his last start against the Cardinals. To their credit, the Rangers staff has stepped up admirably in Lee's absence, with three regular starters (C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando and tonight's starter, Colby Lewis) posting ERAs under 4.00, though offensive issues (of the team's three best hitters last year, two are injured and one is now on the Orioles) have kept the team hovering around the .500 mark for the season.

Of course, the Phillies know all about injury-related offensive issues, as even with last night's Halladay-driven win over the Rangers, the team still has not scored more than three runs in a game since their 5-4 victory in Atlanta eight games ago. With half the team's starting lineup on the shelf, it was clear there were going to be stretches like this, but pushing this streak into double digits would still be a little much to swallow. If 57-year-old Jason Giambi can push four guys across the plate on his lonesome, a couple of our guys should be able to get hot enough to average a run every other inning. Is Domonic Brown the answer? I tend to doubt it, at least for the first few weeks, but lord knows with the kind of production we've been getting on the right side of the outfield lately—minus Benny's dinger last night—we don't have too many places to go but up.

7:10 first pitch from CBP. “I hope they respected the way that I went about my business and if they were able to learn some things, that’s being part of being a good teammate,” Lee said of his old Texas squad. “Other than that, I wish them the best of the luck except for the next couple of days.” Well put, Phife.

College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

Villanova headlined Philly college basketball action today with a 78-68 win over Providence, led by Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins (see full recap). The win is dampened with the news that Phil Booth is increasingly unlikely to return this season as he still deals with knee discomfort (see story).

Here's a snapshot from the rest of area hoops today.

Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The way it played this week, No. 21 Purdue is acting like a team that is determined to be in the race for the Big Ten championship all the way to the end of the regular season.

Caleb Swanigan had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Purdue built an 18-point halftime lead and coasted to a 77-52 victory over Penn State on Saturday, four days after shooting 60.4 percent in a 91-68 victory against Illinois.

Against Penn State, the Boilermakers (16-4, 5-2) got 13 points from freshman guard Carsen Edwards and 10 each from Dakota Mathias and Vince Edwards.

"I would just say we were coming out ready to play," said Vince Edwards, who added seven rebounds and three assists. "Our goal is to win the Big Ten. Our focus is to take care of business."

Josh Reaves led Penn State (11-9, 3-4) with 12 points. The Nittany Lions made only 20 of 64 field goal attempts (31.3 percent) and were outrebounded 39-30. Purdue shot 56.6 percent (30 of 53) (see full recap).

Drexel drops road game at CAA-leading UNC Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Devontae Cacok scored 12 points and set a Colonial Athletic Association record with 24 rebounds, helping UNC Wilmington stay perfect in conference with an 87-74 win over Drexel on Saturday.

Cacok, whose previous career-high rebounding was 16, broke the school record (21) and conference record (22) late in the second half as the Seahawks cruised to their ninth straight home win, tying the best mark in program history.

UNC Wilmington (19-2, 8-0) led 53-51 with 15:01 left before four players combined to rattle off 12 straight points. Cacok capped the run with one of his 11 offensive rebounds and a dunk to give the Seahawks a 65-51 lead with 11:23 remaining.

UNC Wilmington is off to its best start ever and has won 24 of its last 26 conference games, including 12 straight. Chris Flemmings led the Seahawks with 17 points.

Sammy Mojica had 15 points and Rodney Williams added 14 for Drexel (7-13, 1-6), which has lost seven of eight (see full recap).

Delaware swept in season series with Towson
NEWARK, Del. -- Mike Morsell and Arnaud William Adala Moto pulled down a dozen boards as Towson won its fourth straight and a season sweep of Delaware with a 75-58 win on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers are fresh off a win over Hofstra that saw them erase a 16-point first-half deficit, and momentum carried over when they built a 17-point lead at halftime.

Alex Thomas and John Davis added 13 and 12 points, respectively, but Towson saw its streak of three-straight games shooting better than 50 percent end. The Tigers hit 26 of 55 shots from the floor (47.3 percent), including 6 of 15 from deep.

Delaware snapped a six-game losing streak Thursday with a win over Northeastern. Ryan Daly scored 21 points for Delaware and became the first freshman in school history to post six 20-plus efforts in a season. He reached double-digits for the 12th time in 13 games (see full recap).