Cliff Lee has 16 strikeouts, takes backseat to Derek Lowe

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9:50 p.m. EDT – Kimbrel settled for one strikeout, getting Ryan Howard to end the Braves’ 5-0 victory.  Four Braves pitches combined on a two-hit shutout as Cliff Lee notched his 16 strikeouts in a losing cause.

9:40 p.m. EDT – The Braves padded their lead with two runs in the top of the ninth before Chipper Jones fanned to end the frame.  If Craig Kimbrel strikes out the side in the bottom of the ninth, the two teams would tie the NL record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, which is 30.

9:35 p.m. EDT – A big night for strikeouts.  The Marlins and Nationals have combined for 23 through 7 1/2 innings.  Ricky Nolasco had 11 in seven innings for Florida and then three relievers combined for three strikeouts in the top of the eighth.

9:30 p.m. EDT – 26 strikeouts through eight innings for the two teams combined.  The big-league record in a nine-inning game is 31, established by the Rangers and Mariners in a game on July 13, 1997.

9:25 p.m. EDT – The injury to Polanco was a right big toe contusion.  He appears to be day-to-day.

9:20 p.m. EDT – Worse news for the Phillies than a loss tonight would be a lengthy absence for Placido Polanco.  He was injured on the double that knocked Lowe out of the game and was replaced by Wilson Valdez.  NL third basemen really do appear to be cursed this year.

9:15 p.m. EDT – Taking lessons from Lee, Eric O’Flaherty struck out three in a row to bail Lowe out the jam and protect Atlanta’s lead.  And, as expected, Lee is done.  J.C. Romero took over to start the eighth.

9:05 p.m. EDT – And Lowe is done after giving up back-to-back hits to begin the bottom of the seventh.  Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has gone to lefty specialst Eric O’Flaherty to face Ryan Howard in the 3-0 game.

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Cliff Lee just struck out the side in the top of the seventh for the Phillies, giving him 16 strikeouts against the Braves, yet he’s given up three runs and is going to be on the losing side unless the offense can come up with a late rally, as Derek Lowe took a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh for Atlanta.

Shane Victorino singled to lead off the bottom of the sevnth, breaking up Lowe’s bid, but the right-hander remains in the game, going for his first win since April 16.

Lee got each of his final seven outs via the strikeout. He was at 117 pitches through seven, so it seems like a safe assumption that he’s not coming back out for the eighth.

Lee had never fanned more than 13 batters in a game before tonight.  His previous high was established against the A’s in a complete-game victory July 27, 2010.  It’s his 13th career 10-strikeout game.

Kyle Schwarber: Before and After

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It’s always a bit deceiving to see offseason workout photos of players who are said to be getting into great shape because guys in those pics are wearing compression shirts and crap and we’re used to seeing them in baseball uniforms. I remember pics of Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz in the offseason looking svelte, only to see them in uniform come spring as their familiar beefy selves. Uniforms are often loose and billowy and the players wear  a couple of layers when they’re suited up, so at least visually speaking it’s better to compare apples to apples.

Which brings us to Kyle Schwarber. All offseason long we’ve been getting reports about Schwarber working out, losing weight and, of course, getting into The Best Shape of His Life. And some of those pics have definitely shown a young man who has cut fat and gotten lean. Good for him!

Let’s see how that translates to Schwarber in uniform. Here is is at spring training last year:

MESA, AZ – FEBRUARY 21: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs poses during Chicago Cubs Photo Day on February 21, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

 

Here he is toward the end of last season:

CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 09: at Wrigley Field on September 9, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

And here he is now:

MESA, AZ – FEBRUARY 20: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs poses during Chicago Cubs Photo Day on February 20, 2018 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Nice goin’, kid.