Many hyped this week’s interleague series between the Red Sox and Phillies as a potential World Series matchup. And frankly, it’s tough to argue. But tonight was all about Cliff Lee.
Lee just finished off his third straight complete game shutout as part of a 5-0 win. He held the Red Sox to just two hits while fanning five and walking two. The southpaw is the first Phillies’ pitcher to throw three consecutive shutouts since Robin Roberts in 1950.
Lee actually hasn’t allowed a run over his last 32 innings dating back to June 11, which represents a new career-best. He has allowed just one run over five starts in June, good enough for a ridiculous 0.21 ERA over 42 innings. His ERA has dropped from 3.94 to 2.66 in the process. That’s absurd.
As Jayson Stark of ESPN.com notes, no pitcher has thrown four straight complete game shutouts since Orel Hershiser had five in a row in 1988. Lee will try to keep the streak alive Sunday against the Blue Jays.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.