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.
Stephen Strasburg‘s bat was on fire Thursday night in Atlanta. He hit a three-run home run off of Touki Toussaint to cap off an eight-run third inning, then added a two-run single off of Toussaint in the fifth.
The last time a pitcher knocked in at least five runs was on April 11, 2014 when Madison Bumgarner homered and drove in five runs at home against the Rockies. Strasburg is just the seventh pitcher since 2000 to knock in five runs in one game. The others, along with Strasburg and Bumgarner:
- Chris Carpenter (Cardinals) vs. Reds, October 1, 2009 (HR, 6 RBI)
- Jason Marquis (Cubs) vs. Mets, September 22, 2008 (HR, 5 RBI)
- Micah Owings (Diamondbacks) vs. Braves, August 18, 2007 (2 HR, 6 RBI)
- Robert Person (Phillies) vs. Expos, June 2, 2002 (HR, 7 RBI)
- Shawn Estes (Giants) vs. Expos, May 24, 2000 (HR, 5 RBI)
Strasburg is 3-for-3 overall as he also singled to lead off the third. Tonight’s homer marked the fourth of his career and he’s now up to 25 RBI.
Strasburg is performing well on the mound as well. At the time of this writing, he has held the Braves to a lone run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts over four innings as the Nationals lead 10-1.