Lee still winless as Phils lose second of the day
It’s almost July. And Cliff Lee still doesn’t have a win.
Lee pitched seven innings, gave up six hits and five runs and took another loss as the Phillies fell to the Rays, 7-3, in the nightcap of a double-header.
The Phillies lost the first game on Sunday, 3-2 (see story)
. After winning Saturday’s game in dramatic fashion with a Jim Thome walk-off home run, the Phillies lost both legs of the double-header and fell to six games under .500 at 34-40, good enough for dead last in the division at nine games behind Washington.
Lee (0-4) couldn’t play the role of stopper and his 12th attempt at win No. 1 came up short.
“It’s hard to figure out when you look at it,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s throwing good. He had nine strikeouts. He had a streak there where he really looked super, then in the sixth, he ran into trouble.”
Actually, it was in the second that Lee first encountered trouble. He allowed a leadoff walk and then three straight hits that scored three runs. The Phillies trailed the rest of the way.
“Obviously, the second inning, I let things get out of hand there,” Lee said. “I believe I walked the first guy in that inning. I felt like I threw a couple of good pitches on some of those walks to be honest with you. But that’s something I can’t really control.”
Lee came into Sunday's night game with a 3.48 ERA, 40th in the majors. The fewest number of wins any of the 39 guys in front of him had was three. Eighteen of those guys had at least eight wins.
In fact, of the 110 players with the best ERAs in baseball before Sunday, Lee was the only one without a win. He was the only player with fewer than two wins.
“It’s not like his stuff’s not there, because it is,” Manuel said. “He’s very capable of pitching much better than that, we know that. It’s just one of those things. It’s hard for me to explain that. I don’t know.”
Lee did have nine strikeout,s but he also had three walks. Two of the three batters he walked ended up scoring.
“I definitely made some mistakes,” he said. “And they made me pay for it.”
Since 2004, when Lee became a rotational starter, the latest it ever took him to get a win was May 11 in 2010. In the past eight seasons, his first win came by his third start. Last year, his first win came on April 2 in his first start of the year.
“I just have to go out there and continue to make pitches,” Lee said. “That’s really all I can do.”
But it wasn’t just Lee who struggled on Sunday night. The loss was a microcosm of the entire season. The Phillies struggled in just about every facet of the game. The offense mustered just four hits and the bullpen struggled again.
Placido Polanco was the lone bright spot for the Phils in the lineup. He went 2 for 3 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. But the Phils didn’t score until the fourth inning and only pushed across three runs.
“We’re dysfunctional at nights,” Manuel said. “It seems like we can’t put together good games.”
After Lee exited the game, the Phillies were down 5-3, but the bullpen helped the Rays add some insurance. B.J. Rosenberg, who was optioned after the game (see story)
, walked four batters and was charged with two earned runs.
The Phillies’ bullpen just hasn’t been very good. It blew the first game of the double-header and squandered an opportunity to keep the second game close. After the second game, Manuel was asked if he expected the team to make a move to bring in some help.
“I talk to Ruben a lot,” Manuel said. “Every day that we talk, I know that anyway we can help strengthen our team, I know we’re trying to do it. We’ve got more problems than we’ve had in the past.”
And most of them were on display Sunday night.E-mail Dave Zangaro at email@example.com