May 1, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee (33) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports
Sometimes, predicting outcomes in baseball is an impossible task.
After scoring a scant two runs in their final two games against the Miami Marlins, unquestionably one of the worst teams in the National League, the Phillies somehow scored five runs and pounded out eight hits against Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner late Monday night, beating San Francisco 6-2.
Bumgarner, a left-handed pitcher, came into the game with a 1.55 ERA with 36 Ks and 9 BBs. And yet, somehow, the Phils managed to score five runs off him, just one day after making Marlins’ starter Kevin Slowey look like Matt Cain.
This is one frustrating team.
And as Roy Halladay met Monday with Dr. Lewis Yocum about his ailing right shoulder, one of the Phils’ other $20+ men, Cliff Lee, twirled a much-needed terrific game against the Giants, going eight innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits, striking out six while walking no one.
It’s hard to believe the Phils that beat the Giants – a team that had won six in a row heading into last night – is the same team that has been pounded 14-2 by two different teams in the last week. But according to Lee, despite everything you’ve seen this year, the team you saw last night is the REAL Phillies.
"“That’s more of what we are right there, no doubt,” Lee said. “We definitely haven’t been playing up to our potential. We’ve been really far short of that, to be honest with you. I think tonight’s more of a real depiction of what we are. Yeah, I expect us to pick it up a little bit. We’ve kind of underperformed this first month, and it’s time for us to turn it on.” – quotes per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki"
Going into last night’s game, the Phils’ had the second-worst run differential in the NL, and it was still third-worst after Monday night’s win. The Phillies have been shut out five times so far this year.
So, will the real Philadelphia Phillies please stand up? Chances are, they already have.
Lee said after his last start against Cleveland that the Phils needed to play with more pride, especially when they get down early, and are starting to do that a bit more lately.
"“I think pride is a big part of executing. Just grinding,” Lee said. “Sticking in there … basically, if you’re going to get beat, go down fighting. [The Indians] got us early both games, just seemed like we kind of laid down and let them take it from us. Just kind of what I was hinting at with that. More of a pride, fight-to-the-very-end type stuff. It didn’t really feel that way in Cleveland. We were better at home against the Marlins, but we still could do even better, and tonight was more of what I expect from this team as far as energy and applying the pressure to the other team rather than having them apply it on us.”"
For one night, the Phils’ offense appeared to work like a well-oiled machine. They once again left the bases loaded in the first, and had them loaded again in the second with two out, when Michael Young got a rare extra-base hit, a double into the right field corner that gave the Phils a 2-1 lead. Chase Utley would score on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.
Then, after a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1, Domonic Brown did this.
Brown’s blast into McCovey Cove gave the Phils a 5-1 lead, with all the runs shockingly coming against Bumgarner, one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game.
So, what was different about last night?
"“I felt like we had a really good game plan,” said Michael Young, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and one walk. “Guys were really disciplined up there, guys stuck with their plans and things worked out.“I think the biggest thing is to make sure our approach is sound, that we compete in every at-bat and never give them away. I’m not saying we do that, but that’s always a key in any offense, to make sure you battle every at-bat. But we are confident we’re always going to get good pitching. Guys like Cliff are capable of giving performances like that on a nightly basis. So we have to make sure that if there’s one [run] out there — we don’t always need three- or four-run innings — but if there’s one out there, we have to make sure we pick him up. Tonight we did a pretty good job of that.”"
Ah, discipline. That old chestnut.
The Phils, now 15-18, have to play more than one complete game in a row in order for anyone to be truly convinced this team is capable of winning on a consistent basis. Last night aside, there is no proof that this is the REAL Phillies.
But for one night at least, it was a pleasant surprise to see the Phils offense finally perform well against one of the league’s top pitchers, against a team that has won two world championships in three years, in a ballpark that has historically been a house of horrors for them.
For one night at least, the Phillies looked like a good team.
Where It All Went Right
When Michael Young hit his two-run double down the right-field line with the bases loaded in the second, it was the culmination of two rare feats – a Michael Young extra-base hit and a hit with runners in scoring position. That seemed to give the Phils some confidence, especially with Lee pitching lights-out baseball. Young’s propensity for double plays aside, he’s been as good as anyone could have expected him to be.
Cliff Lee, who did what he needed to do with Halladay on the shelf for the foreseeable future. The Phils are going to need this kind of performance from Lee almost every time out, now that Doc is on the shelf.
Hunter Pence, who went 3 for 3 with a double and a homer against his former teammate Lee. I know Pence used to be a Phillie and all and was traded to the Giants not of his own will. Still, he’s a traitor and we should boo him.