Pitcher Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies has been good for nothing lately. In fact he’s allowed nothing, as in no runs, in each of his last three games and his 32-inning scoreless streak is the fifth-longest in the franchise’s history.
When the club signed Lee back in December as a free agent they knew they had one of the top pitching rotations in all of baseball with Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Lee must have known he was joining something special too as he rejected offers from the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees to join the Phillies.
Lee has been earning his pay check since signing, with his 5-0 complete-game, two-hit shutout over Boston on June 28 as a prime example. However, Lee said the team’s and his own personal expectations were high when the season got underway back in April.
He said he expected the club to achieve something special and they also expect to take this year’s World Series, but all they can do at the moment is focus on winning their next game one day at a time. With a 9-5 record and a 2.66 ERA after the Red Sox game, it’s clear to see that Lee has been doing his part so far.
Lee got off to a mediocre start though since he was 4-5 with an ERA of 3.94 at the end of May. He’s actually getting hotter as the season wears on as he had a 5-0 record in June with a miniscule ERA of 0.21. He’s the first Philadelphia pitcher to hurl three straight shutouts since Robin Roberts did it back in 1950. His 32-inning scoreless streak is a career high and he’s trying to break Grover Cleveland Alexander’s club record of 41 2/3, which he set 100 years ago in 1911.
Lee said he’s not too worried about passing Alexander’s record as winning each game is the only thing he has on his mind. He admitted that when he’s retired and looks back on his career, personal achievements are something he can be proud of. He added that there’s a long way to go in the season and the team has a lot of hard work ahead of it. The Phillies (50-30) were in first place in the NL East as of June 29 with a 4.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves.
Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said that the 32-year-old left-handed Lee has all four of his pitches going for him at the moment and he’s been using his curveball a lot and mixing things up real well. It’s obvious that Lee’s improving with each season. The last time he had an extended scoreless streak was in April 2008 when it reached 27 innings. He won the Cy young award that season with Cleveland.
Lee will be attempting to throw his fourth straight shutout when the Phillies meet the Toronto Blue Jays on July 3.