Hey, remember when Cliff Lee pitched pretty well through most of 2012 but couldn't get a win until the second half of the season because the offense was impotent? I ask for no particular reason.
Some scheduling conflicts moved tonight's game to PHL-17, so instead of my planned radio and MLB Gameday based recap I actually got to watch the game, which is a bit of a rarity for me this season as I've been working evenings regularly. This was a mixed blessing, it turned out, as I got to see Cliff Lee dominate, which is always nice. Unfortunately, I also got to see Julio Teheran be a little dominatier.
Let's start with the good. Cliff Lee. He's good. Really good, actually. Lee finished with a final line of 9 IP, 11 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 13 SO, 1 BB, 1 HR on 128(!) pitches. I'll get back to that pitch count in a minute. That 13/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is awesome though. Four of those strikeouts were by Jason Heyward, who got himself a lovely golden sombrero tonight. That's fun too.
Other good, the Phillies got hits! Three of them. They waited until the fifth inning to register their first, which, as everyone would have guessed, was a Ryan Howard infield single. And other good, well, uh...the game was fairly quick, saving the 23,000 fans in attendance from having to suffer in he frigid temperatures? I'm reaching here.
The not so good includes, well, basically the entire offense and some questionable managerial moves which, in the end, didn't much affect the outcome of the game, but were still kind of dumb and not things that should be continued. Also not so good was Evan Gattis, who was 4-4, including launching the solo shot that was the only scoring of the night.
While I've made mention of how awful the offense was, in truth that's not being fair to Julio Teheran, who is a heck of a pitcher and had the Phillies batters off balance all night. And the Phils put a lot of balls in play, just most were weakly hit and they therefore had very little to show for it.
The closest they came to scoring was in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out mini-rally in which Rollins singled, stole second on a 3-0 count to Utley, but was stranded there as Chase grounded out sharply to Dan Uggla.
Now, a pet peeve of mine. Cliff Lee had no business being in the game in the 9th inning. He had thrown 8 great innings, worked his way through the Braves lineup 4 times, was at 115 pitches, and the Phillies had a full bullpen with everyone having at least one day of rest. You need to take the starter out there. There's actual data on this, you know. A fresh reliever is nearly always better than a tired starter his 4th and 5th times through the lineup. Also kind of silly (but not nearly as bad) managerial move was not pinch running for Carlos Ruiz in the bottom of the 8th inning, after he had singled to left. Pretty sure it's optimal to have a guy on base who at least has a chance to score on something to the gaps there, but, again, not that big a deal.
Anyway, good job, Lee. Crappy job, everyone else, basically. Go get 'em tomorrow (though I might miss some of that game because, well, there's playoff hockey on, you know?)
A few selected tweets about tonight's contest:
Did the Phillies really put 24 balls in play and have 3 singles to show for it? Ouch, man. Ouch.— Kevin O'Brien (@PhillyFriar) April 17, 2014
*Shakes fist at the BABIP Gods*
Cliff Lee has nine 12+ strikeout games with Phillies since 2011. He drops to 2-5 with a 2.16 ERA in those starts. Four shutout losses.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) April 17, 2014
Good job, good effort, Phillies offense of 2012-2014.
No.— Did The Phillies Win (@didthephilswin) April 17, 2014
Fangraph of another wasted Lee gem.