Philly’s Cliff Lee looks to bounce back

Cliff Lee has a 2.49 ERA this spring.

Cliff Lee’s highs were stratospheric in 2011. Fans cheered Lee every
time he walked out of the dugout or out of his Center City residence.

Lee was NL pitcher of the Month in June and August after posting
microscopic numbers (0.21 ERA, 0.69 WHIP in June; 0.45 ERA, 0.78 WHIP in
August). Lee was historic in his award-winning months.

If the phrase, you’re only good as your last start is valid, then
Lee left 2011 with a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. Philadelphia’s
favorite athlete coughed up a four-run lead against St. Louis in Game 2
of the NLDS. If the Phillies held on to that lead, they would have gone
up 2-0.

Lee, who was 94-1 in games with a four-run lead, had a long offseason.

“It was tough,” Lee said. “I take responsibility for what happened
in that game. I wish [that game] had a different result, but it didn’t
and I’m ready to give it another shot with this team. I’m confident that
this will be a great year.”

During the winter, Lee relaxed for a few weeks.

“I did some hunting and hung out with the family,” Lee said. “But I
also worked out a lot. I’m focused on what needs to be done.”

Lee expects to have another strong year and nothing less than a championship.

“I always  have high expectations for myself,” Lee said. “I take
pride in wanting the ball, being healthy and grinding it out. I also
expect a lot from this team and the fans expect a lot from this team and
that makes sense to me when you look at the talent level we have here.”

Former Tigers first baseman and current MLB analyst Sean Casey
predicts in the current issue of Maxim that Lee will win the NL Cy
Young.

“All that kind of stuff [awards] is nice, but it’s about winning the World Series,” Lee said. “That’s what I came here for.”

Phils 5, Pirates 4

Here are the highlights:
   
Cliff Lee (2.49 ERA) chucked six scoreless frames and doubled before
leaving. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three.
   
Scott Podsednik, who subbed for Hunter Pence, hit a walk-off home run in the ninth. He went 2-for-2 and is now batting .362.
   
Jim Thome started at first base and finished 1-for-2 with a double and run.


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