Only two pitchers in Phillies history have longer scoreless streaks than the 32 innings Cliff Lee will take into his next start at Toronto on Sunday.
One of them is Phillies radio broadcaster Larry Andersen, who went 32 straight without giving up a run in 1984. The difference between the two, of course, is that L.A. was a reliever.
"I think it's tougher what he's doing, tougher for a starter, because they're facing the same guys over and over. As a reliever, you might face the same team five different times in a streak, but maybe not face the same hitters," Andersen said.
"So, for a starter to do it, you're looking at the course of nine straight innings and doing it three or four times [through the order]. That, to me, is more impressive."
Devil's advocate: A starter has to be at the top of his game only once every fifth day and can get on a roll. A reliever has to do it an inning at a time and never knows when he's going to pitch.
"I think you have to be luckier if you're a reliever. You can't have off days," Andersen said. "As a starter, you only have to have 3 or 4 good days in a row, whereas as a reliever you might have to have like 30. But I just think a starter going all those innings is a little more impressive."
What Andersen remembers most about his streak is the way it ended, on Aug. 2 at Busch Stadium. With one out, David Green lined a ball back at Andersen. He knocked it down, but threw wildly to first, allowing Green to go all the way to third. It was scored a single and a two-base throwing error.
Tommy Herr followed with a single to drive in what turned out to be an unearned run.
Incidentally, there has been an adjustment in the Phillies' rankings from those announced immediately after Lee polished off the Red Sox for his third straight shutout Tuesday night.
After consulting with the Elias Sports Bureau, the Phillies determined that all-time club leader Grover Cleveland Alexander's streak was 41 innings instead of 41, as listed in the media guide.
Andersen is second, although he originally was credited with 33. Lee is tied for third with Ken Heintzelman and Robin Roberts. The book had the latter two at 32 innings. *