Friday, April 15, 2011

Stat Line of the Day: April 15th

Cliff Lee (PHI): W, 9 innings, 3 hits, 12 strikeouts, 1 walk @ Washington
The Phils were still looking for the Cliff Lee they knew and loved back in the 2009 season and playoffs (2-0, two earned runs in 24.1 IP), and they finally got him back on a warm April night in Washington. Lee mowed through the Nationals lineup time and time again, needing fewer than 10 pitches  in  an  inning  on  three  separate  occasions.
Lee was absolutely dominant against the Nationals
Cliff also had five true 1-2-3 innings, plus the sixth inning where he allowed a lead single before a double play also kept the batters in that inning to the minimum. At one point he struck out five batters in a row--in the 7th and 8th innings. The overall gamescore of 92 was the best in MLB this year, beating Dan Haren's one-hitter by one point (Haren also walked three batters and struck out fewer than Lee). This was Cliff's return to dominance, and the first sign of "greatness" we've seen yet from this rotation. The night after Roy Halladay goes the distance, giving up two 9th-inning runs but holding on for the victory, Lee was just that much more spectacular. The two become the first Phils pitchers to throw back-to-back complete games since 1999, and Roy Oswalt gives them a legitimate chance to have three in a row. Yes, it's against the Nationals, and they don't have quite the lineup that some other clubs have, but you really have to wonder if anybody was going to hit Lee on this night. His ERA plummeted from 7.84 down to 4.19, so about one more great start away from a quality ERA, even after one decent and one awful start. If we're starting to see the true potential of the Phillies rotation, then opposing lineups have quite a lot to worry about indeed.

Honorable Mention

Ryan Miller (BUF): 35 saves, 0 goals allowed, W @ PHI
It was definitely a tough call to put this as an honorable mention, because shutting out one of the NHL's best offenses, at home, in the first game of the playoffs, would usually merit more consideration. Unfortunately for Miller, a few things fell against his favor: a) the Flyers have not been playing well lately, and without Chris Pronger they seemed to be limping into the playoffs. I won't say they played poorly in game one (partly because they had quite a lot of chances, partly because I'm not able to say I watched the entire game), b) Cliff Lee pitched out of his mind, and c) I like the Flyers. All kidding aside, a 35-save shutout was good, and Miller was very good, but he needed about seven more saves to be considered for the top slot.

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