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.

Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya's 1st MLS goal not enough in draw with Toronto FC

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Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya's 1st MLS goal not enough in draw with Toronto FC

TORONTO -- Justin Morrow scored in the 70th minute and Toronto FC salvaged a point with a 1-1 draw with the Union on Saturday night.

Morrow made a run from his left back position, and midfielder Jonathan Osorio laid the ball off to Morrow for a tight-angle shot. Toronto (13-8-9) had its second straight home tie,

Alejandro Bedoya scored for Philadelphia (11-11-9) in the 25th minute. Bedoya took a pass from Fabian Herbers with his back to the Toronto goal, quickly spun past the Toronto back line and chipped a shot that looped over goalkeeper Clint Irwin.

Penn State routed by No. 4 Michigan at The Big House

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Penn State routed by No. 4 Michigan at The Big House

BOX SCORE

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- De'Veon Smith led an overwhelming ground game with 107 yards rushing and a touchdown and Karan Higdon ran for two scores and No. 4 Michigan routed Penn State 49-10 on Saturday in both teams' Big Ten opener.

The Wolverines scored six touchdowns on the ground as they finished with 326 yards rushing. Wilton Speight threw one touchdown pass.

Michigan (4-0) dominated both sides of the ball. Penn State (2-2) has lost three straight to the Wolverines.

Jabrill Peppers gave the fans an early thrill by returning Penn State's first punt to the 9, although a bench-interference penalty moved the ball to the Nittany Lions 24. Seven plays later, Khalid Hill dove in on 4th-and-goal from the 1.

The Wolverines also scored touchdowns on their next two drives. Penn State finally got a couple stops, but the Wolverines took a 28-0 halftime lead on Higdon's 2-yard run.

The Nittany Lions got on the board with a field goal early in the third, but Chris Evans made it 35-3 with a 3-yard run and the Wolverines cruised to the win.

The takeaway
Penn State: The Nittany Lions came into the Big House without any of their starting linebackers then lost Brandon Smith to a second-quarter targeting penalty. That left the Penn State defense helpless against Michigan's running game and short passes. The offense was even worse, putting up 50 yards in the first half. Saquon Barkley had 19 yards rushing and caught two passes for 47 yards, but the rest of the team combined for minus-16.

Michigan: The Wolverines dominated in the trenches, with their defensive line continuously overrunning Penn State's offensive line. They registered five sacks while building their first-half lead and Speight had all the time he needed.

Poll implications
Michigan: The Wolverines came in at No. 4 and there seems little chance that will change much with No. 1 Alabama winning earlier in the day in a blowout and No. 2 Ohio State on a bye.

Up next
Penn State: Returns to Happy Valley for the first of three straight home games. The Nittany Lions face Minnesota next Saturday in the Golden Gophers' first trip to Penn State since 2009.

Michigan: Plays its fifth-straight game at the Big House to open the season, but will have a tougher test against Wisconsin. The 11th-ranked Badgers routed No. 8 Michigan State 30-6 in East Lansing.