Cliff Lee’s pitching debut with the Philadelphia Phillies last Friday night did not disappoint. The other three games were, well, a different story.
The Phillies entered AT&T Park with the Major League’s best road record. They also arrived with their newest trade deadline acquisitions in tow, including last season’s AL Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee. The San Francisco Giants, owners of the best home record and thick in the Wild Card race, would be throwing out their own pair of Cy Young’ers. This looked to be one helluva long weekend.
The Giants started the series by sending out Jonathan Sanchez against the Phillies’ Rodrigo Lopez on Thursday evening. This was Sanchez’s first start at home since throwing a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on July 10th. After giving up an RBI double to Ryan Howard in the top of the first, he settled down and struck out seven over 5 2/3 innings. The only other run the Phils could muster was a solo shot from Chase Utley in the sixth inning.
(The preceding pitch soared over Utley’s head, prompting a long stare towards Sanchez, a rare show of “emotion” from Chase. But in his oh-too-cool manner, he exacted revenge with a home run. Beautiful.)
Pablo Sandoval and Eugenio Velez single-handedly provided all the offense for the Giants. Sandoval drove a solo home run into McCovey Cove for the second time this year. A very fitting home run as Mr. Willie McCovey was in attendance for the 50th anniversary of his debut with the Giants.
(How great would it be if Willie decided to get himself a kayak, paddle his way in to the cove with fervent authority, waving his oar over his head yelling, “this is MY cove!”, scaring off all the home run ball hunters. Eh? Anyway…)
The Phillies didn’t help their cause by uncharacteristically committing three errors, contributing to four unearned runs and a 7-2 loss. I’m just going to assume the Phillies’ heads weren’t completely in to it, thinking too much about the next night’s game. Yes, that’s exactly what it was. I’m sticking to that theory.
The most anticipated Phillies game since Game 5.1 & 5.2 of the 2008 World Series had arrived. Newly acquired pitcher Cliff Lee made his Philly debut on Friday night and took full advantage of the spotlight.
CG, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 SO
Complete domination. If that wasn’t enough, Lee went 2 for 4 at the plate, including a double and run scored. He matched his hit total from all his years in Cleveland in one evening. Jayson Werth drove in three of the Phillies’ runs in a 5-1 win.
Did I mention Lee had a no-hitter in to the sixth inning?
I’ll take four jerseys please.
The Giants followed up the loss by tossing out their reigning Cy Young Award winner in Tim Lincecum. He continued his impressive 2009 by shutting down the Phillies, pitching eight scoreless innings, striking out eight and lowering his ERA to 2.18. Brian “no, not THAT Brian” Wilson came in the ninth for his 27th save. Joe Blanton pitched a great game for the Phillies, going seven inning and only giving up two runs, but the bats had no answer for Lincecum. The Giants earned their Major League-leading 15th shutout with the 2-0 win.
Cole Hamels came in to Sunday’s game 3-0 in his last five starts and was starting to find a groove in his inconsistent 2009 season. Hamels gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings, but then it all unravelled. Pitcher Barry Zito hit a broken-bat single and Eugenio Velez flared a Texas Leaguer. Newly acquired Freddy Sanchez doubled them both in.
Ryan Howard continued the error parade when he fielded a Pablo Sandoval grounder and flipped the ball WAY over the covering Hamels’ head. Velez scored the go-ahead run. The Phillies could not plate any more runners and in the end, the Giants prevailed 7-3.
The Phillies get a well-needed day off on Monday before resuming against the Colorado Rockies.
Weak bats (.205 average, 2.9 runs/game and two shutouts), physical and mental errors, and an injured Shane Victorino made the Phillies seem listless and confused during their 3-4 road trip.
Despite this minor setback, the Phillies still maintain a five game lead over the Florida Marlins in the NL East.
Hopefully by Tuesday I’ll have my Cliff Lee jerseys.
About the Author
Written by Bryan Sargent
Bryan Sargent is a lifelong Phillies fan, currently residing in the least hospitable city for such a person as himself, New York City. This coming January he will be attending Phillies Phantasy Camp in Clearwater, FL. He is currently documenting the entire process on his blog (http://www.bryansargent.com). You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @BTSargent.