Cliff Lee avoids another loss, but struggles again for Rangers

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Nine runs of support from the Rangers’ lineup took him off the hook for a loss, but Cliff Lee struggled again last night and didn’t make it out of the fifth inning against the Royals.
Lee allowed seven runs in 4.2 innings–including three unearned runs due to his own throwing error–and coughed up 10 hits while facing only 25 batters. He also served up his 10th homer in 11 starts with the Rangers after giving up a total of just 12 long balls in 25 combined starts with the Phillies and Mariners.
Lee has allowed four or more runs in five straight starts for the first time since 2006 and is now 2-5 with a 4.69 ERA and 72/6 K/BB ratio in 80.2 innings for the Rangers, so while his excellent secondary numbers continue to suggest a return to dominance the impending free agent is running out of time to give Texas a positive return on what was a pretty substantial investment.
Until next month, of course, when no matter how Lee fares down the stretch he can make or break the trade with his playoff performance.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.