The Phillies made the unpredictable move and went out and signed Cliff Lee. The Rangers and Yankees seemed to be in a bidding war for the former Cy Young winner, but the Phillies swept in under the radar and Cliff Lee is once again wearing red pin stripes. Cliff said he came back to Philadelphia because he thought this was the best place to try and win a world series. Pitching along side three other aces as well as in front of 45,000 strong every single night is what Lee deemed world series bound.
Tonight at Citizens Bank Park, Cliff Lee made his return to the Phillies complete with his first start of the season. Lee pitched 7 strong innings, only allowing three runs and mowing down the Astros lineup to the tune of 11 strikeouts. He made two mistakes to Carlos Lee, one resulted in an RBI triple the other, a two run home run. Both mistakes accounted for the three runs that Lee allowed. Other then that, Cliff Lee looked to be business as usual.
The story of the night will be Lee's return to Philadelphia, but the real story was the run support provide by the Phillies lineup. Through two games the Phillies have scored 14 runs but have hit no home runs. All runs so far have been manufactured and a large number have been clutch two out scores. For a team that was dubbed "overrated" and was questioned about their ability to score enough runs for their starters, the Phillies have answered their critics by putting on a batting clinic.
Through two games the Phillies lineup is doing their jobs, a few stand outs would be: Jimmy Rollins looks great hitting out of the three hole in front of Ryan Howard. It may be the new spot in the lineup or the fact that J-Rol is finally healthy; whatever it is, it is working. Ryan Howard also looks much better, he is not striding in the box and he is laying off the slider down and away. His ability to follow the ball and poke it the other way tonight shows he may be on his way to upping his average and becoming more of a complete hitter. Ben Francisco at times looks as though he is out of place, but then he comes up with a clutch RBI single making his prior mistakes at the plate go away. With time and playing every day Francisco will only improve.
The Phillies now 2-0 after solid outings by Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have the Astros on the ropes. I can only imagine how they must feel knowing they have to face another ace tomorrow in Roy Oswalt to avoid the sweep. The mental aspect of how intimidating it is to have a starting rotation that just does not let up, combined with a lineup that can be a hitting machine up and down will make it a long season for opposing teams. Go Phil's!