Cliff Lee just knows how to win.
While Lee was touched up for eight runs over just five innings in his Opening Day start this afternoon, he was still the winning pitcher as the Phillies pounded the Rangers 14-10 at Globe Life Park. It was the most runs the Phillies had scored in a season opener since 1900.
Lee was given an early 6-0 lead as the Phillies beat up on Tanner Scheppers, who was making his first career start. The big blow was a grand slam from Jimmy Rollins in the top of the second inning. However, Lee quickly gave up the lead by allowing four runs in the bottom of the second inning and three more in the third.
The Phillies eventually took the lead back for good in the fifth inning when John Mayberry, Jr. delivered a pinch-hit two-run double against left-hander Pedro Figueroa. They tacked on four more in the sixth, including a solo home run from offseason acquisition Marlon Byrd, and one run in the eighth on a solo homer from Cody Asche.
This was just the fourth time in Lee’s career that he had allowed eight or more runs in a start. He didn’t allow more than five runs in any of his starts last season. The veteran southpaw the first pitcher to allow at least eight earned runs in a start and still win since the Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson did it last May 17 against the Orioles. If you’ll recall, Lee didn’t get his first win July 4 in 2012 despite pitching pretty well, which tells you all you need to know about how fickle this statistic can be at times. Still, he’ll gladly take the W to start the year.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.