The Phils cruised to a 5-0 win last night behind the fifth straight outstanding start by Cliff Lee. Lee threw a complete-game shutout, holding the Red Sox to two hits and two walks, and was backed by two-run homers from Brown and Victorino.
It continues an amazing run for Lee. After his third consecutive complete-game shutout, he has now thrown 32 scoreless innings in a row. In five starts in June, he’s allowed one run on 21 hits and eight walks in 42 innings (0.21 ERA and an 0.69 ratio).
Lee is the first Phillie to throw three consecutive shutouts since 1950. Grover Cleveland Alexander holds the team record for consecutive scoreless innings — he threw 41 2/3 in 1911.
The Phillies are 50-30 on the year after beating the Boston Red Sox 5-0 last night. They lead the NL East, 4 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Braves.
Lee got the start for the Phillies and threw a complete game, allowing two hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out five.
Lee has thrown an average of 117 pitches over his last five starts. In his last nine starts he’s been over 110 pitches eight times and over 120 three times.
He set Boston down in order in the first.
He walked Kevin Youkilis to start the second, but left him stranded there. He struck Darnell McDonald out looking, got Jason Varitek on a fly ball to center and then got Mike Cameron looking.
Lee started the third up 2-0 and set Boston down in order.
In the fourth he got Dustin Pedroia on a fly ball to right, Adrian Gonzalez on a popup to second and Youkilis looking.
He got McDonald, Varitek and Cameron in the fifth.
The Phils led 3-0 when Lee started the sixth. Marco Scutaro led off and lined a single to left. Beckett was next and was looking to bunt. Having just finished screaming at the home plate ump about balls and strikes from the bench after the end of the bottom of the fifth, Beckett took strike one and fouled off strike two. He swung away 1-2 and hit a double-play ball to Rollins. Jacoby Ellsbury was next and smashed a ball to first, but Howard handled it and took it to first himself for the third out.
Up 5-0, Lee walked Pedroia to start the seventh. Adrian Gonzalez flew to center for the first out and Youkilis to hit into a double-play behind him.
Seems like this is the place where one should mention that you shouldn’t walk the leadoff hitter up 5-0, but the 30 scoreless innings in a row at this point thing is compelling.
McDonald lined a double to left to start the eighth. Varitek was next and smashed a ball towards short, but Rollins took it on one hop and Howard scooped the ball at first for the first out with McDonald holding. Lee struck Cameron out looking for the second out and Scutaro grounded to third for the third.
Switch-hitter Drew Sutton hit for pitcher Bobby Jenks and struck out to start the ninth. Ellsbury grounded to third for the second out and Pedroia lined to third to end the game.
The Phillies lineup against righty Josh Beckett went (1) Rollins (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Victorino (6) Ibanez (7) Brown (8) Ruiz. Victorino hits fifth with Polanco second, which makes a lot more sense to me.
The Phils went in order in the first.
Howard started the second with a single to center. Victorino was next and grounded to short with Howard forced at second for the first out. Beckett threw the ball away trying to pick Victorino off of first, allowing Victorino to move up to second. Brown hit a 2-2 pitch out to center, putting the Phils up 2-0. Ruiz grounded to short for the third out.
Rollins walked with one out in the third and stole second. Polanco and Utley both flew to center to leave him there.
The Phils went in order in the fourth.
Brown doubled to left to start the fifth. He went to third on a deep fly ball by Ruiz and scored when Lee followed that with a fly ball to left for the second out. 3-0. Rollins grounded to first to end the inning.
Polanco started the sixth with a single and Utley bunted him to second. Howard got ahead 3-0, but flew to right for the second out. Victorino hit a 3-1 pitch out to right, putting the Phils up 5-0. Ibanez grounded to first to set the Phillies down.
Hope we don’t see Utley bunting the runners along that much.
The Phils went in order in the seventh.
Utley reached on an infield single with two outs in the eighth. Howard was next and walked 3-2, putting men on first and second for Victorino. Victorino struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch that looked outside to me. I think he thought so too.
Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk in the game. He’s 4-for-his-last-17. All four of the hits came on Sunday against Oakland.
Polanco 1-for-4 with a strikeout. He’s 3-for-8 with a double over the last two games, but hitting 231/286/282 in 218 plate appearances since the end of April. He’s on pace to walk a career-high 53 times.
Utley was 1-for-3. He’s 7-for-his-last-20 with seven singles. His last extra-base hit came on June 15.
Howard 1-for-3 with a walk. He’s 1-for-his-last-12 with four walks.
Victorino 1-for-4 with a two-run homer. 342/405/605 over his last 85 plate appearances. Didn’t happen last night, but he is pounding left-handed pitching this year to the tune of 353/459/745. He’s been better against lefties for a while now, but doesn’t usually put up a 1.200 OPS against them.
Ibanez 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He’s 1-for-his-last-22 and has awful numbers for the year against both righties and lefties. His home/road splits are dramatic, though: 278/324/468 at home and 167/227/258 on the road.
Brown was 2-for-3 with a double and a two-run homer. He’s 4-for-his-last-9 and 5-for-his-last-26.
Ruiz 0-for-3. He’s 2-for-his-last-14. Again, not a factor last night, but he’s hitting 196/328/235 against lefties for the year.
Vance Worley (2-1, 2.83) faces righty John Lackey (5-6, 7.36) tonight in game two of the series. Lackey threw to an 8.01 ERA in his first seven starts of the season and hit the DL in mid-May with a right elbow strain. He returned in June and was at least a little better, throwing to a 5.03 ERA in his next three starts before allowing five runs in 3 1/3 innings to the Padres in his most recent start. He’s been bad all over — at home and away, against righties and lefties. For the year he’s allowing hits and walks both a career high levels and striking out just 5.5 batters per nine innings, which is the worst mark for his career. Worley will be making his seventh start with the Phils this year. The Phils have gone 4-2 in his starts so far and all but one, a May 29 mess he pitched against the Mets, have been pretty good. He pitched well against Oakland in his most recent start, holding the A’s to one hit and four walks over six shutout innings. He’s walked ten of the 83 left-handed batters he’s faced this season.