Cliff Lee threw his first shutout of the season on Wednesday night. (AP Photo)
The Phillies took the rubber match of their three game set with Miami on Wednesday, shutting out the struggling Marlins 3-0. It was the second straight series win for the Fightin’s, and the first time since April 15 (when they were 6-7) that they are back to just one game under the .500 mark.
Vintage Cliff Lee on the mound tonight
The Phillies offense managed three runs on 12 hits against Marlins pitching, which was more than enough for Cliff Lee, who threw nine strong innings en- route to his first complete game and shutout of the season.The left-hander faced minimal danger in the contest, working his way out of a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the second to go on to throw six 1-2-3 innings. He walked two and gave up just three hits on 115 pitches (85 of which were strikes). Lee has basically been a lock to perform in every start this year. He has had quality starts in each of his last four outings, and in eight of ten outings this season. His record improves to 5-2, and his ERA is now a minuscule 2.48 on the season. He has given up just four runs in his last four starts, and the shutout was the twelfth of his career, and seventh in a Phillies uniform.
Clutch hitting provides just enough offense
The bats showed a decent amount of life tonight, as the Phillies rapped out 12 hits against starter Kevin Slowey and the Marlins bullpen. However it was three of those hits- a solo homer from Delmon Young, an RBI single from Freddy Galvis, and an RBI triple from Domonic Brown that stood out. All three of those hits were with two outs and produced runs, which is something the Phillies have been struggling with immensely this season. There is still some work to be done- 12 hits should produce more than three runs- but the three, two-out RBI hits in the game is a good place to start for a team that entered play hitting .197 with runners in scoring position and two outs (which ranks 25th out of 30 major league teams.
Middle of the order starting to heat up
Ryan Howard was 2-for-4 tonight with a double (albeit it might have been the softest hit, accidental double he has ever hit), and is 7-for-17 (.411 average) with three runs batted in in his last four games. His double tonight moved him into a tie for eighth place with Johnny Callison on the Phillies all time extra-base hits list with 534. Delmon Young, who had gone 16 games between his first and second home runs of the season needed just a good night’s sleep to hit his third. He was 2-for-4 tonight with two runs, a homer, and an RBI. If he can continue to hit balls hard consistently Ryan Howard should start to see some better pitches. If Chase Utley, who has been the Phillies best run producer this year, Howard and Young starting to drive the ball will certainly be a very welcome sight.
What’s up next
The Phillies will be off on Thursday before traveling to Washington to open up a three game set with the Nationals on Friday. It is their first meeting with Washington this season. While they will still be facing a team that has been struggling offensively, they will be seeing some much better pitching than they saw in the Marlins series. Friday night’s probables are Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 2.82 ERA) for the Phils and the tough righty Jordan Zimmerman (7-2, 1.62 ERA) for the Nats.