Results tagged ‘ Fernando Valenzuela ’

Lee’s Dominant Month

Cliff Lee has been unhittable this month.

How unhittable?

Glad you asked. Lee went 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in June. According to Elias Sports Bureau, since earned runs were first recorded on official scores – 1912 in the NL and 1913 in the AL - only six other starting pitchers went 5-0 or better with an ERA that low in a calendar month:

  • Guy Bush in August 1926 (6-0, 0.19 ERA)
  • Fernando Valenzuela in April 1981 (5-0, 0.20)
  • Nolan Ryan in May 1984 (5-0, 0.20)
  • Mike Witt in August 1986 (5-0, 0.21)
  • Orel Hershiser in September 1988 (5-0, 0.00)
  • Cory Lidle in August 2002 (5-0, 0.20).

Lee has thrown a shutout while allowing six or fewer hits in each of his last three starts.  The last pitcher to have a three-start streak like that was Toronto’s Roger Clemens in August 1998.

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More from Elias: The matchup between Josh Beckett and Lee was the first since 1985 matching one pitcher leading his league in ERA against another who threw a shutout in each of his two previous starts.  That last happened on Sept. 11, 1985, when Dwight Gooden faced John Tudor at Shea Stadium.

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Lee Is Hittable, Beatable

lee 0829.jpgHow good had Cliff Lee been since he joined the Phillies last month?

“I watched his film and I don’t think he missed but five spots in two games,” Matt Diaz said after last night’s 9-1 victory over the Phillies.

Lee entered the game as the first Phillies pitcher to win his first five starts since Marty Bystrom in 1980. If he had won last night he would have become the first Phillies pitcher to win his first six starts since Al Orth — yes, the Al Orth — won his first eight in 1895.

Lee also had joined Fernando Valenzuela as the second pitcher in the past 60 years to win his first five starts with a team with a 1.00 ERA or less. Lee posted a 0.68 ERA. Valenzuela had a 0.20 ERA with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But Lee allowed 10 hits, six runs and three home runs in just five innings against the Braves, easily his worst performance since he joined the Phillies after a July 29 trade with Cleveland.

He is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA.

“I think he made more mistakes than he’s been making,” Diaz said. “Looking at tonight’s film of my at-bats alone, he missed a couple of spots.”

Lee agreed.

“I went and watched basically every hit I gave up and they were all right down the middle,” Lee said. “It’s hard to get good results when you’re throwing pitches belt high and down the middle of the plate. That’s basically what happened. I feel good about throwing strikes, working ahead and not walking people, but I put myself in positions to put them away and I missed up and down the middle. If you consistently do that, that’s what’s going to happen.”

Homers to Anderson and Brian McCann might not have been home runs elsewhere, but Lee refused to use that as an excuse.

“Ballpark? Whatever,” Lee said. “I got hit today because I was throwing pitches down the middle. That had nothing to do with the ballpark. It was me throwing balls down the middle and them not missing them. They’re good hitters. The ballpark is an excuse. Yeah, maybe in another ballpark a couple of those would have been fly balls, but they weren’t. They were home runs. It’s my job not to throw the pitches where I did.”

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The Phillies need to win Sunday night to prevent back-to-back series losses for the first time since they lost four consecutive series from June 12-25 against Boston, Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

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The Phillies are hitting a mediocre .215 (56-for-260) with 14 homers and 87 RBIs with runners in scoring position since July 26.

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