Lee loses again as Phils fall 10 back in NL East
MIAMI – Last June, Cliff Lee could do no wrong.
This June, he could do no right.
Lee’s month from hell ended Friday night the way so many others did – in defeat. In his worst start of a disappointing season, he failed to get out of the fifth inning as he and the Phillies suffered a 6-2 loss to the Miami Marlins (see Salisbury's Instant Replay)
The Phils are a season-worst seven games under .500.
They are 10 games behind first-place Washington in the NL East, the most they’ve been back since the end of the 2006 season.
A season after finishing third in the NL Cy Young voting, Lee is winless and the Phils are 3-10 in his 13 starts.
This season has become one bad dream.
“For the whole team it has been,” Lee said. “We’ve been in last place all season. I don’t think anyone is happy with the way things have gone, as a group, and definitely for me individually.”
Lee finished the month of June 0-3 and gave up 22 earned runs in 32 1/3 innings for an ERA of 6.02.
Last June, he went 5-0 and allowed one earned run in 42 innings for an ERA of 0.21.
Lee’s struggles have mirrored the entire starting rotation’s this month. The Phils are 9-18 in June. Their starting pitchers have a 5.04 ERA in the month. Oh, yeah, and the month still has one more day. This team had plenty of concerns coming into the season. Starting pitching was not one of them. But with Roy Halladay on the disabled list and Lee giving up at least five runs in his last three starts, it is now.
Along with the bullpen. And the defense.
Manager Charlie Manuel said Lee looks frustrated.
You would be, too, if you hadn’t won a game since Sept. 26.
There have been times this season when Lee pitched well and did not get run support. Lately, he’s pitched poorly.
“It’s more frustrating when I don’t pitch well,” said Lee, who is 0-5. “As far as the wins and losses go, that’s kind of out of my control. But I can do something about not getting out of the fifth inning and giving up five runs. That’s on me. I can do better than that.”
Lee spent time on the disabled list in April with an oblique strain. He said he is completely healthy.
“I don’t have an explanation,” he said.
Neither does Manuel.
“I don’t know,” the manager said. “I watch him and the stuff looks good. They’re just hitting him. I don’t know. It’s hard to figure out.”
Lee gave up four doubles, the first to Jose Reyes to start the bottom of the first. He scored from third when Lee couldn’t make a play on a ball back to the mound. The Marlins got two more in the third and three in the fifth as Lee allowed two singles, two doubles and a walk. That put the Marlins up 6-1. It was the third straight game in which the Phils trailed by five runs at one point in the game.
Offensively, the Phils had chances against winning pitcher Josh Johnson early in the game. They had a runner in scoring position each of the first three innings, but couldn’t get a run home. Hunter Pence drove in both the Phils’ runs with a homer in the fourth and a base hit in the ninth. The Phils were just 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position. They have just one hit in their last 19 chances with a runner in scoring position. Brutal.
The Phils reach the mathematical halfway point of the season after Sunday’s game. Before the game, Manuel said he still believed the team had a second-half run in it – provided it added some relief help and got its starting rotation straightened out. But now the Phils are 10 games out and that sounds a lot farther back than nine games, their deficit before this latest loss. Saturday is the last day of June and this season is on the brink.