The end of tonight's game seemed almost painless. Three Padres batters came to the plate and three Padres batters were sent back to the dugout with lower batting averages. Jonathan Papelbon, for just one night, was the guy that deserved to have an extra $58 tacked onto his contract.
The Phillies won 4-2, and things generally happened the way they were supposed to happen. Cliff Lee was Cliff Lee, pitching 8 absolutely stupendous innings. His line ended up being pretty damn sweet: 5 hits, 2 earned runs, 9 strikeouts, and 1 walk. His ERA for the season now sits below 3 at 2.97, while his WHIP is at 1.03.
In a season full of uncertainty, confusion, madness, and plain old disappointment, this game was a joy to watch. Cliff carved up the Padres and their boring uniforms (bring back those jawns from the '80s!), helping to make this a homestand to remember, at least up to this point. As we all know, the ship could sink at any moment.
But no more pessimism, back to the smiles and sunshine. Besides Cliff and J-Paps+58, other good things happened! Freddy Galvis was a triple short of the cycle, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Jimmy Rollins showed some vital signs as well, stroking career home run #199, and ending the night 2-for-3 with an intentional walk. Darin Ruf's good eye was once again in effect, nabbing a walk and a double. While there's reason to be concerned about his strikes outs, I'm going to put on my Glass Half Full Hat for a moment and remind you guys that there are some batters on this team who don't even see three pitches in an at-bat. He may have a problem that needs to be sorted out, but considering the circumstances, it's not that bad.
If there's any nitpicking to be done (and believe me, this game is especially hard to nitpick), it's Cliff Lee's pitch selection. Cliff had two mistakes tonight, both of which were just solo homers, and while the team quickly picked their pitcher up, Lee can be homer happy from time to time. Including tonight, he's given up 21 homers this season, which puts him within reach of last year's total of 26. The last time he had totals this high was in 2006 where he surrendered 29.
It may be easy to blame the bandbox (the Bank isn't actually a bandbox, okay?), but it really comes back to Cliff's pitching arsenal. When he's offering up more off-speed stuff or mixing up his pitches, the home runs are kept in check. On the other hand, when he's throwing more fastballs, he's giving hitters exactly what they want. Cliff may be a very good/great pitcher, but if one throws enough fastballs, major league hitters will eventually find them and assault them accordingly.
But back to the smiles. Tonight was a good night.
As the game ended, Neneh Cherry's "Buffalo Stance" came up on shuffle, and a few lines from the chorus seemed particularly fitting considering Cliff's outing:
Who's looking good today?
Who's looking good in every way?
No style rookie
You better watch don't mess with me
I'm looking at you, Medica.
"Feel Good!" - Tony! Toni! Tone!