I am attempting to approach the game with some sort of cool, detached, quasi professional eye, so that I can accurately relate what happens without being swept up in the emotive response generated by the swings in momentum that are very much the fabric of the game of baseball. By this I mean that I was struggling to choke back the vitriol that will inevitably come spewing forth in a torrent of obscenities and violence against intimate objects that will make it difficult to capture the game with the written word. I mean this as professionally as it can possibly be construed, go screw Atlanta.
There is no way that a pitcher should strike out sixteen batters and lose a game. Cliff Lee was great for all but roughly ten pitches in the top of the third inning. Nothing is more maddening than wasting a great pitching performance against a division rival. That is exactly what the Phillies did failing to take a reasonable approach to Braves right hander Derek Lowe, who carried a no hitter in the seventh inning. So I repeat, go screw Atlanta.
The Phils offense has been giving Cliff the Cole Hamels treatment in his last two starts generating exactly zero runs against the Diamondbacks and Braves. Lowe is an effective major league pitcher, but to watch him induce weak ground ball after weak ground ball would lead you to believe that the guy is much more than effective. I know that he pitched a no-hitter for the Red Sox, but that was 2002. Lowe came into the game with an ERA close to four and a losing record. His final line included six no-hit innings and he finished with six innings pitched allowing two hits, no runs and striking out four leaving us all careening off the course of rational thought. He exited the game after a blister on his push off foot became too painful for him to continue.
Cliff Lee struck out sixteen batters, besting his career high by three. Lee allowed nine hits in the game and was hurt most by a four batter sequence in the top of the third inning. Alex Gonzalez (who is fast becoming a thorn in the side of Lee) smashed a double off the wall in left field, missing a home run by mere inches. Chipper Jones followed with a hard hit single off the glove of Jimmy Rollins. This certainly looked like a play that Rollins usually makes and he admitted as much in a post game interview. If that ball is caught, the Phillies strand Gonzalez on second and the entire complexion of the game is augmented. Instead Brain McCann and Dan Uggla followed with doubles to make the score 3-0 in favor of the Braves. Lee struck out pretty much every batter thereafter, but you don’t get any runs for striking guys out. Lee’s final line was seven innings, nine hits, three runs, one walk and SIXTEEN STRIKEOUTS.
Victorino broke up the no hitter in the bottom of the seventh with an opposite field single and was promptly followed by a ground rule double from Placido Polanco. Lowe exited the game and was relieved by Eric O’Flaherty. At this point, it looked as if the slumbering Phillies offense might break through. Men on second and third with no outs, the top RBI producer in the major leagues at bat, gave us all the indication that they could scratch at least one run across. I was hoping that they could at least get Lee off the hook for the loss. They didn’t. O’Flaherty struck out Ryan Howard, Ben Fransisco and Raul Ibanez to end the threat. I believe that the collective shouted expletive from the Delaware valley could be heard in Atlanta.
Danys Baez entered the game in the ninth inning and allowed his customary two runs to make the score 5-0 Braves. Cliff”s effort was now wasted in another poor offensive showing.
The Phillies take on the Brave’s top pitching prospect in the person of Julio Teheran tomorrow. He will be opposed by Kyle Kendrick. God help us all.