Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Lee at his best

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cliff Lee laughed at the simplicity of it all. But he was happy, so happy that he bounced around the visiting clubhouse wearing flip-flops with his full uniform still on. When his shutout was over, he pumped his left fist.

Lee at his best

Cliff Lee pitched a complete game shutout against the Giants on Thursday in San Francisco. (Ben Margot/AP)
Cliff Lee pitched a complete game shutout against the Giants on Thursday in San Francisco. (Ben Margot/AP)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cliff Lee laughed at the simplicity of it all. But he was happy, so happy that he bounced around the visiting clubhouse wearing flip-flops with his full uniform still on. When his shutout was over, he pumped his left fist.

"Basically everything was working," Lee said. "It was one of those nights when I was locating everything." He paused. Then, he chuckled.

"That was it," he said.

It was the fifth complete-game shutout of the season and that leads all of baseball. That figure represents half of his career total of 10 shutouts.

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And when Lee stepped into a ballpark that has such conflicting memories for him -- the place where he began his Phillies career and the place where he was rocked in the World Series as a Texas Ranger -- he tossed one of his finest games ever.

"I felt like I could throw any pitch at any time in any location," Lee said. "When that’s happening it’s going to be a good game."

It also helps that Lee threw 29 first-pitch strikes to the 33 Giants he faced. He used all of his pitches because he was ahead in the count all night. Nineteen of his 21 change-ups were strikes. Seven of his 18 curveballs were, too.

"The way he was throwing," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said, "it looked like he could've thrown 14 innings."

No Giants reached third base. They had their chances, specifically in the eighth when two runners reached on singles. But Lee caught Aaron Rowand looking on a curve and Jeff Keppinger bounced out to second on a change-up.

Lee said he felt better on the mound than he did any other day this season. So when did he know it?

"When the game was over," Lee said. "I felt like I was locating. It still doesn't mean they can't hit the ball. At any moment you can make a mistake. So I stayed on top of what I was doing, kept my mind in the moment, and focused on each pitch."

And the Giants encountered a weapon that could haunt them come October.


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