While Phillies fans have certainly shown their support of Cliff Lee since his return, his teammates are a bit lacking in that department. In Lee’s last three starts, the Phils have scored a grand total of ONE run for him.
Last night, the huge “zero” on the board amounted to a very odd outcome. Lee struck out a career-high 16 batters in the 5-0 loss to the Braves. This tied Steve Carlton for the most strikeouts over nine innings by a lefty in Phillies history.
The third inning was not great for Lee, as he allowed three runs. But aside from that inning, Lee was lights out, keeping pace with Derek Lowe who had a no-hitter going into the seventh.
But if you allow just three runs over seven innings, you are supposed to get a win, right? Sadly, that did not happen. Instead, the Phillies offense continues to be a dark cloud over Lee’s head.
The most frustrating offense came in the seventh after Shane Victorino broke up the no-hitter with a single to left. Placido Polanco knocked a ground rule double, which as the ball hopped over the fence in center, actually prevented Victorino from scoring.
With two men in scoring position and no outs, the Phillies bats failed again. Lowe left the game with an injury and Eric O’Flaherty replaced him.
Facing O’Flaherty should have been a relief after Lowe had mowed the Phils down in six straight innings. Instead, the next three batters, Ryan Howard, Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez, all struck out swinging. Not one of them could even make contact.
And that continues to be the Achilles heel of this team. These severe hot and cold streaks at the plate are going to catch up to the Phillies eventually. The team’s 21 wins behind a stellar pitching staff is covering the multitude of offensive sins right now. But that cannot last for long.
The Phillies bats will need to get serious very, very soon.
Roy Oswalt came back from his tour of duty in the Mississippi tornado sector, but apparently, his lower back did not come with him. He is now on the DL, retroactive for 10 days, which means he could return on Friday. Oswalt has a history of back issues, so this is potentially very bad news. Stay tuned…
Catcher Carlos Ruiz is also still on the shelf with a strained lower back and he remains day to day. The Phils may place him on the DL, but if they do, it will have to be sometime today so they can backdate it.
***Important Blog FYI: The entire MLBlogs community is going to be switched to a WordPress format beginning on Friday, May 6. The transition may last through Monday night, May 9. All MLBlogs writers will be unable to post and you will be unable to access any MLBlogs during this transition. So do not panic if this and other blogs suddenly disappear during that weekend…we will be back :O)***
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography