Top Moment #9: Cliff Lee Goes the Distance in His First Start as a Phillie
Doesn’t it feel like Lee is somehow haunting this team? Take a trip back to July 31 when Cliff Lee was the New Guy on the Philadelphia Phillies, when the buzz was reaching its apex following the pre-deadline deal that brought him over from Cleveland. The Phils didn’t get the guy at the top of their list (Roy Halladay), but did acquire someone with a solid pedigree. No one was sure exactly what Lee would bring to the table, but it was apparent that moving to the NL would give him a leg up on the competition.
His first start took place against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park along the Bay. Lee wasted no time acclimating himself to the NL, tossing a complete game, four-hitter, throwing 109 pitches – 76 for strikes – all while re-energizing a team that had been lacking that big-game starter they could rely on for the postseason. In one fell swoop, Lee became an ace, and from that point forward, became a cult hero in Philadelphia following the 5-1 victory.
I won’t soon forget where I was for this game. Standing in Lucy’s Hat Shop on 3rd & Market, the place erupted as Lee closed the game out by inducing a 4-6-3 double-play, complements (or compliments) of Bengie Molina. As we rejoiced a little louder than usual for a July 31 game, the seeds had then been planted. The Phillies were in the process of running away with the NL East, as they took a six game lead. Lee was in the process of sheer domination, as he would go on to win five straight starts, beginning with this demolition of the Giants. The team, starting July 31, became the team to beat once again in the Senior Circuit. All thanks to Cliff Lee.