Lee Puts Final Start Behind Him
(Photo: Jeff Griffith/US Presswire)
(Photo: Jeff Griffith/US Presswire)

Posted Mar 8, 2012


In his final start of 2011, Cliff Lee let a four-run lead slip away in Game Two of the NLDS. This spring though, Lee is looking to put that behind him and pick up where he left off prior to that start.

From the time Cliff Lee arrived at spring training last year until he threw his final pitch in Game Two of the National League Division Series last fall, the expectations that followed him were inescapable.

After spurning his former team, the Rangers, and more money from another perennial playoff team, the Yankees, to sign a five-year, $120 million deal with the Phillies, Lee was seen as the final piece to a dream-like rotation that included fellow Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay and former postseason MVPs Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.

Lee made good on the preseason hype and hoopla when he took the mound in 2011, winning 17 games, throwing a National League-best six shutouts and finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting.

But throughout the winter, Lee couldn't escape the final start of an otherwise storybook season in his return to Philadelphia. In Game 2 of the NLDS against the Cardinals, Lee was spotted a 4-0 lead but couldn't hold onto it.

Lee gave up five runs on 12 hits in six innings in a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals, and five days later, the Phillies' season was over.

"It was on my mind," Lee said on Tuesday, when he made his spring debut in a two-inning stint against the Toronto Blue Jays in a 7-0 win. "It was the only chance I had to help the team win, and I gave up a 4-0 lead. It was frustrating. At the same time, you have to give the Cardinals credit. They never gave up, fought to the very end and peaked at the right time... and got a championship."

Lee, who competed in back-to-back World Series with the Phillies in 2009 and with Texas in 2010, remains focused on getting his first championship ring as a new season gets under way.

The 33-year-old Lee allowed two hits while striking out one and walking one in his first start of the spring Tuesday. After a 2011 season that saw him run off two separate 30-plus-inning scoreless streaks, including a 34-inning run that was the longest shutout streak by any Phillies pitcher in 100 years, Lee continues to treat spring training as the baby steps every pitcher needs to take in order to prep for the long season that awaits.

"There are always things you can work on, no matter what," Lee said. "It's a never-ending deal. You're never content with anything. It's impossible to go the full year without giving up a run, so there is always something you can do better no matter what. I don't think I'm ever going to be satisfied with anything, there is always room for improvement."

In the first week of spring training, Lee was briefly slowed with abdominal soreness. But he looked healthy and strong against the Blue Jays.

"He looked all right. He got them out, didn't he?" Phillies manager Charlie Manuel joked afterward. "Look at the scoreboard. We didn't give up nothing today."

Cliff Lee's career post-season stats

Year Team Series Opp W L ERA G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2009 Philadelphia NLDS COL 1 0 1.10 2 2 1 16.1 11 4 2 0 3 10 0.857
2009 Philadelphia NLCS LAD 1 0 0.00 1 1 0 8.0 3 0 0 0 0 10 0.375
2009 Philadelphia WS NYY 2 0 2.81 2 2 1 16.0 13 6 5 0 3 13 1.000
2010 Texas ALDS TBR 2 0 1.13 2 2 1 16.0 11 2 2 1 0 21 0.688
2010 Texas ALCS NYY 1 0 0.00 1 1 0 8.0 2 0 0 0 1 13 0.375
2010 Texas WS SFG 0 2 6.94 2 2 0 11.2 14 10 9 1 1 13 1.286
2011 Philadelphia NLDS STL 0 1 7.50 1 1 0 6.0 12 5 5 0 2 9 2.333
3 Years (7 Series) 7 3 2.52 11 11 3 82.0 66 27 23 2 10 89 0.927
1 ALDS 2 0 1.13 2 2 1 16.0 11 2 2 1 0 21 0.688
2 NLDS 1 1 2.82 3 3 1 22.1 23 9 7 0 5 19 1.254
1 NLCS 1 0 0.00 1 1 0 8.0 3 0 0 0 0 10 0.375
1 ALCS 1 0 0.00 1 1 0 8.0 2 0 0 0 1 13 0.375
2 WS 2 2 4.55 4 4 1 27.2 27 16 14 1 4 26 1.120

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/8/2012.




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