The Phillies offense started fast and never looked back. Cliff Lee did the same.
Chase Utley drove in four runs, launching his second home run of the season in the eighth inning in the Phillies 7-1 win. In the first inning, Utley roped a double to left-center field to score Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino. And that was all they’d need as Cliff Lee continued to kill it.
Lee became the NL leader in strikeouts, passing teammate Roy Halladay with seven today, giving him 107 on the season. In eight innings Lee gave up just four hits and walked a pair for his sixth victory of the year. Several times he overpowered the “minor-league” Cubs lineup.
That’s now 14 runs in two games for the Phils, a sudden turnaround that was unforeseen. Maybe it was the full compliment of players finally getting used being together, or perhaps it was Charlie Manuel’s decision to insert Placido Polanco in the five-hole. Either way, the Phillies are starting to show signs of life after nearly a full month of agony.
Victorino notched three hits and drove in a run, as did Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard. But the big winner today was Utley. His 2-for-4 day pushed his average to .242, the highest it has been this year. The quick bat we’ve become accustomed to for the better part of a decade was back for a day, but can he bring it out on a night-to-night basis? We shall see.
It’s also exciting to see Lee rounding into form after some shaky early season starts. Many were beginning to question whether the right move was made in bringing him back at such a high price, but he’s starting to make everyone remember the Cliff Lee we fell in love with. His game score of 75 on Saturday was the third highest for him this season.
One downer – the Phils were 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base, so the total could have been much higher against Cubs starter Matt Garza. He walked three and gave up five hits in six innings, but actually finished with a quality start. The Phillies did their damage against relievers Sean Marshall and Casey Coleman.