The Phillies opened up their series with the Dodgers Monday night with a 7-0 win behind the strong left arm of Cliff Lee, and some much needed run support in the form of a couple of longballs from the heart of the order.
So much for Carlos Ruiz not having a home run or an RBI this year. Ryne Sandberg moved him up to the cleanup spot Monday night, despite his .204 average and lack of run production, and did he ever clean up. Ruiz took care of both of those 0-fers, smacking a two-RBI double in the first, and crushing a two-run homer to left-center in the ninth. He finished the day 3-for-4 with two doubles, a homer, a walk, and two runs for eight total bases in the game.
Lee dealing again
Make it 10. That’s how many times Cliff Lee has has double-digit strikeouts and no walks in a start while wearing a Phillies uniform, which is now the most in team history. Lee was utterly dominant Monday night, earning his third win of the season after tossing eight shutout innings, and allowing just four base runners (all hits) while punching out 10 on 113 pitches (83 strikes!). At one point he retired 20 straight Dodgers hitters. He also added a base hit at the dish, because, you know, he is Cliff Lee.
Lee, who is just four starts removed from allowing his Opening Day implosion, has somehow pitched well enough in less than four weeks to be able to lower his ERA to 3.09 for the season. He now has 23 strikeouts and has allowed jut one run in his last two starts combined, and three of his last four starts have yielded one run or fewer. He also continues to handle the Dodgers extremely well, as he entered the game with a 1.70 ERA against them in his career and lowered that number to sub-1.50 with his brilliant start tonight.
The Big Piece with another bomb
Ryan Howard opened up the game in the fifth with a two-run blast to dead center field off Dodgers’ starter Paul Maholm to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead. Howard aggressively swung at a first pitch slider after taking a meatball right down the middle of the plate to strike out in his first at bat.
It was Howard’s fifth home run of the season, in what is traditionally a bad month for The Big Piece in his career. He has only hit five homers or more in April three other times in his career, and he still has eight days left this month to tie or pass his career high of six in April. Last year it took him 31 games to hit his fifth, this year he has done it in 19. He now has homers in back-to-back games on this road trip, and has raised his average from .217 to .271 in two days’ time.
A.J. Burnett (0-1, 2.74 ERA) will take the hill Tuesday night against tough Dodgers’ lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1, 1.93 ERA). First pitch is at 10:10 ET.