Cliff Lee receives as much support from the Phillies' offense as President Obama gets from the Tea Party.
The Phillies' offense has been virtually non-existent during Lee’s starts this season. Lee tried to make a slim lead stand up, but the Dodgers came back to win 2-1 in the Phillies' most heartbreaking defeat of the season.
Lee (0-3) dazzled for seven innings. He struck out 12 and that might have led to his demise. With two outs in the eighth, an obviously drained Lee was trying to finish off Elian Herrara. But he couldn’t make a 1-0 lead stand up. His 122nd pitch of the cool, comfortable night was driven off the top of the left-center field wall. Two Dodgers scored and that was all Los Angeles needed against the punchless Phillies.
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It’s a shame since Lee put on a pitching clinic. At one point, he retired 17 out of 18 Dodgers. He threw 92 strikes. He did everything but supply offensive firepower.
“I’m not really frustrated,” Lee said. “I just want to put up as many zeroes as I can.”
Lee did just that for seven innings. He gave up a pair of hits and looked like the hurler who won Pitcher of the Month awards twice last season. Lee was just a strike away from handing off a lead to closer Jonathan Papelbon, but Herrera lofted a fly ball over the head of tiny left fielder Juan Pierre.
“It was inches from my glove,” Pierre said. “Maybe I jumped too soon. It’s a ball I caught in the past. You’ve got to make that play and I didn’t.”
The Phillies also didn’t hit. Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence each had two hits, but most of the bats were missing in action. That was the biggest reason the Phillies (28-29) have lost four in a row and dropped a game below .500.
A third of the season is over and the Phillies are a loss away from their 30th defeat of the campaign. Compare that to their 2011 season, in which they lost 60 games the entire year.
There is plenty to be concerned about as the Phillies languish in last place. When help arrives in the form of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, will it be too late?