Cliff Lee was cold and the bats were colder. The recipe was toxic, and made for a long and boring night for the Phillies, who fell to the Cardinals 5-0. The loss dropped the Phillies to 7-11 on the season.
LEE LOOKS HUMAN
– As I wrote in tonight’s Gameday, no Phillies pitcher has instilled more confidence in the team than Cliff Lee so far this year. Tonight, however, he’d stumble for the first time in 2013.
– Lee had baserunners early and often, including walking three straight batters in a four-run third–something he had never done before in his career. The lack of control was uncharacteristic of Lee, and it really cost him in the inning. Though, Lee should only be held responsible for two of the runs, despite what the box score says. That’s because of a strange play involving Chase Utley. With two outs and runners on first and second, Utley inexplicably went to his right on a ground ball hit to his left. There’s no telling why Utley got crossed up on the play, but it cost the team at least one run, and arguably two as the next hitter also singled to score the runner from third. When the inning was over, it was 4-0 Cardinals.
– Even in this down start, Lee still wasn’t that terrible. His final line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. As I said above, two of the runs in the third weren’t his fault. The other run came on a solo home run by Carlos Beltran. As for the walks, Lee was very close to the zone on many of the pitches that were called balls (some might say he was squeezed). He was just slightly off. However, as we’ve seen with Lee in the past, a lack of pinpoint control makes him seem like a very average pitcher. Nothing to worry about here, though. Lee will bounce back, as he always does.
WALKIN’ TO VICTORY? NOT TONIGHT
– Here’s a notable stat: In all seven of the Phillies victories before tonight, they recorded at least two walks. They snapped a four-game walkless streak in their victory last night, causing many to point to correlations between the team’s walk rate and record. Facing an erratic Lance Lynn, who has walked 4.4 batters per nine this season, the Phils once again took a patient approach, walking a few times through the early innings. Problem is, the team couldn’t hit. Literally.
– They didn’t get their first hit until the fifth inning, when John Mayberry lead off with a double. He was stranded. And Lynn would retire seven in a row following that first hit. The Phillies only other hits would come on a fluke infield single from Erik Kratz, and a single through the left side by Michael Young–who kept his hitting streak alive, so there’s that. This, after the team had two straight games of double-digit hits. It’s just one of those nights. With this performance, it didn’t matter who was on the mound–the team never stood a chance. Hopefully the offense can put this one behind them and try to get back on track tomorrow.
BULLPEN ROUNDING INTO FORM?
– Hey, remember a couple weeks ago when the bullpen was causing mass panic all over the Delaware Valley? They’ve been a lot better lately, namely because the starting pitching has been able to consistently go at least six innings. Tonight, though, the bullpen was put into another tricky situation when Lee was lifted after five. There would be no further damage, as Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst and Joe Savery (Yes, Joe Savery!) combined to hold the Cardinals scoreless in the final four frames. On a night with very few positives, this is one thing to taken away from this game.
– The Phillies look for a split tomorrow night behind the arm of Kyle Kendrick (1-1, 3.38) as they make their first appearance on Sunday Night Baseball. Jake Westbrook (1-1, 0.00) gets the ball for the Cards.