Friday, June 17, 2011

Lee's CG SO completes sweep

The Phillies and Cliff Lee took care of business yesterday, finishing off the four game sweep over the Marlins with a 3-0 victory.

Lee was tremendous from start to finish. He pitched a complete game two-hit shut-out en route to his seventh victory of the year. Lee didn't strike out many batters, just four, which allowed him to keep his pitch count down and cruise through the afternoon.

It took the Marlins until the fifth inning to come up with a base hit against Lee, when Mike Stanton hit a two-out single.

The Phils had just taken the lead the previous inning, thanks to a two-out, RBI double by Lee, smoking a ball off the wall in right-center field which allowed Michael Martinez to score all the way from first.

Lee gave himself a run and that was all he needed, although Ryan Howard tacked on a solo shot in the fifth and Jimmy Rollins hit an RBI double in the sixth.

The sweep pushed Florida (32-37) 11.5 games behind the Phils and in sole possession of last place in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Phillies have built a five game lead over the second place Atlanta Braves.

Following the game, the Phillies designated J.C. Romero for assignment, closing his tenure with the Phils. He was a valued asset in 2007 and 2008 after Boston let him go, but command has been a major issue for Romero and with the emergence of lefty Antonio Bastardo, it was time to let Romero go.

The Phillies are in Seattle this weekend as Interleague play kicks off across Major League Baseball once again. There are some interesting storylines, including Raul Ibanez's return to Seattle. Here's a look at the probables:

Tonight: Roy Oswalt (4-4 3.14) vs. Michael Pineda (6-4 2.72)
Oswalt snapped a four-game losing streak in his last outing against the Cubs, allowing three runs over seven innings. He's 1-0 in two career starts against the Mariners.

Pineda kicked off his career by going 4-1 in April with a 2.01 ERA. The big hard throwing rookie went 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in May but is coming off the worst start of his career. Against Detroit on June 11, he lasted just 5.1 innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits, one walk and four strikeouts. He has 80 strikeouts in 82.2 innings this year, and just 23 walks. He's been a very good pitcher all year.

Saturday: Vance Worley (2-1 3.75) vs. Felix Hernandez (7-5 3.30)
Worley is back with the club, making his first start since he was demolished by the Mets on May 29. He lasted just three innings, allowed eight runs (five earned) on 12 hits. Until that point, he'd been 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA. Since his demotion, he's been lights out in Triple-A and is looking to prove he belongs with the big club. He has quite a task on his hands, as he opposes one of the game's most dominant arms.

Hernandez is one of the game's most electric starters, and arguably has the best stuff of any starter. His 103 strikeouts ranks fifth in MLB, and second in the AL. Hernandez is not having his typical year thus far. Last season he was 13-12 with 2.27 ERA and 232 strikeouts. In 2009, he was 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA and 217 strikeouts. He is truly one of the game's best and should be an interesting test for a Phillies offense that is starting to hit the ball again.

Sunday: Cole Hamels (9-2 2.49) vs. Jason Vargas (4-4 4.13)
Hamels has been the best left handed pitcher in baseball this year, and one of the game's best. He pitched seven great innings against the Marlins in his last start before leaving with back tightness. He says he's good to go and the Phillies certainly hope this is the case. He has 97 strikeouts in 97.2 innings, ranking fourth in the NL in K's behind teammates Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.

Vargas is coming off a 6-3 loss to the Angels in which he allowed five runs in seven innings. He's gone seven or more innings in seven of his last nine outings. The lefty is a solid veteran pitcher that eats innings and keeps his team in the ball game.

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