Monday, August 24, 2009

Howard and Lee Continue Their Torrid Pace

Cubs vs. Phillies

It is starting to become routine and second nature. Cliff Lee puts up a bunch of zeroes and Ryan Howard puts up a bunch of crooked numbers on the scoreboard. When they are doing it together, the opposing team feels demoralized and has little chance. Just ask the Mets.

Lee took the mound today in Citi Field looking to extend his Phillies winning streak and give the team a 3-1 series win over the Mets. By the time he jogged out to the field, Howard had already staked him a 3-run lead with a blast over the left-center field fence. In his next plate appearance in the 3rd inning, Howard launched a bomb into the second deck in right field, plating 2 more runs.

Meanwhile, Lee survived a slight adventure in the bottom of the first inning. When Chase Utley uncharacteristically dropped Angel Pagan's pop up into short right, then fired errantly into the left field foul ground, Pagan circled the bases for a "little league home run." It actually went in the books as two errors on Utley. One out later, Gary Sheffield popped a triple down the right field line and scored on Fernando Tatis' sacrifice fly. The Mets narrowed the score to 3-2, but would never score again.

Overall, Lee did not have the same air of domination that he has exhibited in his four previous Phillies starts. Of course, when a pitcher goes 7 innings, allows 6 hits, walks nobody, strikes out 5 and yields only 2 unearned runs... and it is perceived that he was not quite as sharp... that speaks volumes about how spectacular he has been. To express it in numbers, Lee is now 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA in a Phillies uniform. Who was that Halladay guy, anyway?

For Howard, he continues to prove the old baseball adage that when a dangerous hitter is in a slump, somebody is going to eventually pay. He emerged from the longest home run drought in his career by erupting to crush 8 home runs and drive in 22 runs over the past 11 games. Howard now has 34 homers and 104 RBI for the season with 40 games left to play.

Today's 6-2 win increased the Phillies lead in the NL East to 7 games over the Braves and 8 games over the Marlins. There is still a lot of baseball left to play, so they will need to keep battling to clinch the division and gain home field advantage in the playoffs. That road will be a heck of a lot easier, though, if Mr. Lee and Mr. Howard continue their current trends.

1 comment:

  1. Yessssssssssssss!!! Phil-Lee(s)!!! The groove is in the heart....ahhhh!!!