After Monday’s 9-0 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was asked if it were good to see a pitcher the caliber Cliff Lee to prepare his team for the postseason.
Gonzalez’s basically responded that his team could do without the practice.
“I don’t know if any time of the year you to see one of these guys pitch,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not good. He was solid and was really good tonight.”
That is actually understating matters.
Lee (16-7, 2.47 ERA) has pitched himself into the Cy Young conversation. He has six shutouts this season, the most by a Phillies pitchers since Steve Carlton had six in 1982.
Lee gave catcher Carlos Ruiz credit, saying he shook him off just once or twice.
After every game, Lee makes pitching sound much simpler than it really is.
“I threw a lot of curveballs early,” Lee said. “That was a big pitch for me and we got a big lead and I threw strikes.”
He sure did throw strikes. Lee had an efficient complete game, throwing 100 pitches, 70 for strikes.
Lee has now thrown 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
Even though the Phillies now lead Atlanta by 8 ½ games in the National League East, there is no doubt they wanted to send a message in the first of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
“They are a very good team, with good pitching, good offense and a really good bullpen,” Lee said. “It’s nice to get on them early today and continue to add on the whole game. It was a big win for us.”
After going 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in June, Lee finished August 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA.
As hard as it is to believe, he’s started September in an even better fashion.