This post-game quote from Phillies ace Cliff Lee pretty much defines him as a person and a pitcher:
“It isn’t often you pitch 8 2/3 innings and not give up a run and somehow not feel good about it when it’s over,” he said.
Despite utterly dominating the Cincinnati Reds for 8 2/3 innings, shutting them out on six hits and a walk while adding seven strikeouts. He effectively mixed in his nasty curveball while spotting his fastball well. Basically, a typical Cliff Lee outing when Cliff Lee is on.
Manager Charlie Manuel brought in closer Ryan Madson to shut the door on the Reds after Lee gave up a double, a walk, and hit a batter. And while Lee is of course disappointed, no one else should be. That hiccup shouldn’t mar the perception of his performance — he was otherwise fantastic, as he’s been all month.
This August, Lee nearly matched his otherworldly June performance. He again went 5-0, with a 0.45 ERA in five starts. He allowed only two earned runs while striking out 39 and walking eight. Opponents hit only .173 off him and he had another phenomenal WHIP of 0.78.
Lee was a bit inconsistent to start the season, but then he locked in and had a June for the ages. His line: 5-0 record, 42 innings pitched, 0.21 ERA (he only gave up one earned run the entire month), three complete game shutouts, no home runs allowed, opponent’s batting average of .151, 29 strikeouts, eight walks, and an incredible WHIP of 0.69. That’s amazing.
After coming back to earth a bit in July, even struggling at times in going 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA, Lee got back to his dominant self.
Per the esteemed Jim Salisbury, Lee is only the third pitcher in Major League Baseball history to put up a 5-0 record with an ERA under 1.00 in two separate months in the same season. The other two are pretty good company: Hall of Famers Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson.
When Lee was advised after the game about his accomplishment, he demonstrated the casual coolness that has made him so beloved in Philadelphia.
“I hope I have a good September and October, too,” he said.
For those of us who started dreaming about the next World Bleeping Championship a second after Brad Lidge dropped to his knees and hugged Chooch, we hope so too.
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