Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Pied Phifer

This picture pretty much says it all.

Last night, Cliff Lee played the Red Sox lineup like a flute en route to his third straight complete-game shutout. Read that again: third straight complete-game shutout. All he did was go the distance and surrender just two hits and two walks while striking out five against the best offense in all of baseball, albeit one absent David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Carl Crawford. Still, he didn't allow a single hit to guys named Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis. Not one.

God damn the man is awesome. How awesome? Let's just say his ERA in the month of June heading into last night's game was 0.27 … and he somehow LOWERED it. With last night's ridiculously incredible outing, his third straight shutout mind you, Lee is now working on a career-best 32-inning scoreless streak, and he is now 5-0 in the month of June with a 0.21 ERA, which is where he'll finish the month, seeing as it ends tomorrow. Seriously, the guy has given up just 1 run in 42 innings this month. Think about that. Wait, don't, because it's pretty much unfathomable.

To put that in perspective, Lee hit a sacrifice fly last night to give himself an insurance run in the fifth, his second RBI of the month. That means Cliff Lee, a pitcher — a pitcher who has spent nearly his entire career in the American League, no less — finished with more RBIs himself than runs allowed in an entire month. That's just stupid.

It's really just not fair what he's doing to hitters right now. Sarge said it best last night (I know, I'm as shocked as you!): The Red Sox were just up there guessing against Lee, and they were guessing wrong. He had every Boston batter completely baffled in the box. Every one.

And the few times someone got good wood on a pitch, the defense was there to ensure Lee's shutout streak would remain intact. There was the insane play by Rollins, a couple nice grabs by Ryan Howard, and man, what can I say about Placido Polanco? The man may be mired in a slump, but his defense over at third this year has been nothing short of superb. To the point where he almost has to be in the Gold Glove conversation over there.

Of course, it wasn't just Lee and the defense doing work. Domonic Brown looked like a man's man against one of the game's best pitchers, absolutely destroying a ball to center off Josh Beckett in the second to give Lee and the Phils a 2-0 lead, then roping a double the other way off Beckett in a great piece of hitting.

I said it last night and I'll say it again, I don't care what his batting average is right now, I want me as much Dom Brown in the lineup as humanly possible. He has a cannon in right, he's fast, and he goes and does things like that last night. Let him take his licks and make his adjustments, because when he gets comfortable he's going to be a beast. That's pretty clear.

I'd be remiss not to mention Shane Victorino's two-run bomb in the sixth to pretty much put the game away, because the way Lee was pitching last night — and has all month —  there wasn't a chance in hell Boston was going to score 5 or 6 runs.

That's because right now, Clifton Phifer Lee is playing batters like a flute. No matter what they do, they're helpless against him. In one month, the conversation around Lee has gone from "What's wrong?" to "Cy Young." Or maybe even "Babe Ruth."

Seriously, Cliff Phifer Lee.

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