Red Sox Live Blog: Cliff Lee Spins Third Straight Shutout, Leads Phillies Past Red Sox 5-0

Red Sox Live Blog: Cliff Lee Spins Third Straight Shutout, Leads Phillies Past Red Sox 5-0 

 

Final, Phillies 5-0: The angriest of the bunch will say that the lineup that Terry Francona put together was a joke.

If David Ortiz was in there, or Josh Reddick instead of Darnell McDonald, the result would not have been any different. Cliff Lee locks in as well as any pitcher out there, and he was locked in tonight.

Lee has three straight complete game shutouts, a scoreless streak of 32 innings and a June run that reads like this: 5-0, 0.21 ERA.

Boston has dropped five of six, scoring a grand total of 14 runs in that stretch.

The debates can rage on as to what Francona can do to turn it around. They will carry into tomorrow, when an eagerly anticipated lineup card comes out. If David Ortiz is at first, as expected, will Adrian Gonzalez be in right?

We will find out at some point tomorrow and get you the updates right away. First pitch in the John Lackey-Vance Worley matchup is 7:05 p.m.

End 8th, Phillies 5-0: The pitcher's spot, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia are due up in the ninth for the Red Sox against Cliff Lee, who is vying to become the first pitcher to throw three straight complete game shutouts since Brandon Webb in 2007.

Before Lee gets his chance, we saw Bobby Jenks get some work in. He allowed a two-out infield single to Chase Utley and then walked Ryan Howard.

Jenks finally struck out Shane Victorino on a breakingball. It was the 25th pitch of the inning for Jenks. Not sure that the Red Sox wanted him to get in that much work in his return to the mound. That could sap him for the remainder of the series.

Mid 8th, Phillies 5-0: When Darnell McDonald, yes Darnell McDonald, led off the eighth with a double, Cliff Lee's scoreless streak was in serious jeopardy.

Or so it seemed.

Working around leadoff doubles is like taking out the trash for Lee. Just something he has to do once in awhile.

A nice play by Jimmy Rollins on a Jason Varitek grounder certainly helped. The fact that Mike Cameron stepped into the box did as well. Cameron was Lee's fourth strikeout victim.

Lee is at 100 pitches. There was some action in the pen, but Lee should get his chance at three straight shutouts.

Bobby Jenks will throw the eighth for Boston.

End 7th, Phillies 5-0: Solid inning for Franklin Morales in his return from the disabled list.

Pumping it in as fast as 95, Morales strikes out two in a quick seventh. Cliff Lee was the second strikeout victim. Something tells me the Phillies are quite allright with that.

Mid 7th, Phillies 5-0: Cliff Lee may have to go to the bullpen after the game to get in some extra work.

He walked Dustin Pedroia to begin the seventh, but a fly to center off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez and a double play off the bat of Kevin Youkilis has Lee in the dugout at 81 pitches.

Darnell McDonald leads off the eighth. Surely, that's where the comeback begins.

Franklin Morales is taking over for Josh Beckett, who gives up a season-high five runs on five hits with a season-low one strikeout.

End 6th, Phillies 5-0: Josh Beckett is assured of having his string of eight straight quality starts snapped after Shane Victorino slugs a two-run homer in the sixth.

Beckett had surrendered five runs in 22 innings this month before this start. Although he has not been awful, he certainly has not been at his best, and we have to wonder how much the layoff impacted him tonight.

Cliff Lee has to feeling pretty good about himself, and if he can get through the seventh without an issue, he will get to face that weak latter half of the lineup in the eighth.

Mid 6th, Phillies 3-0: This is how good Cliff Lee is. He gives up his first hit of the game to start the sixth, gets his customary standing ovation, and then needs just seven pitches to get out of the inning.

Of course, it helps when Josh Beckett can't get a bunt attempt down and is forced to swing away, thereby grounding into a 6-3 double play.

(Did you like the way Beckett carried his bat all the way down to first and then all the way back to the dugout? My sources tell me it's a trust issue with the bat boy.)

Jacoby Ellsbury grounded to first to end it. Just 69 pitches for Lee.

End 5th, Phillies 3-0: Domonic Brown and Cliff Lee. Cliff Lee and Domonic Brown.

That tandem has almost single-handedly sunk the Sox so far. Brown follows up his two-run bomb in the second with a double to start the fifth.

He moves to third on a deep fly to right by Carlos Ruiz (does Adrian Gonzalez make that play? I say no, and it would've been an RBI double). Lee follows with a deep drive to left to score Brown.

Josh Beckett is up second in the top of the sixth.

Mid 5th, Phillies 2-0: Cliff Lee and Daisuke Matsuzaka will never be confused. However, the last time we saw a Red Sox-Phillies game with a no-hitter a serious possibility was when Matsuzaka took one into the eighth on this mound last year.

Lee has another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. The Kevin Youkilis walk is still the only discretion on his line.

End 4th, Phillies 2-0: And that is a seven-pitch inning for Josh Beckett. Can't I just go and get some water without missing two outs?

Beckett gets through Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez without an issue. His pitch count, which was climbing the last two innings, is a rather healthy 59.

Mid 4th, Phillies 2-0: The Red Sox are still seeking their first hit after another 1-2-3 frame for Cliff Lee, who has retired nine in a row since a walk to Kevin Youkilis opening up the second.

Youkilis was Lee's third strikeout victim ending the fourth. The lefty's scoreless streak is at 27 and his ERA in June is down to 0.24.

The scoreless streak matches a career high. He also did it early in 2008, the year he turned it all around.

End 3rd, Phillies 2-0: Josh Beckett is able to work around a one-out walk to Jimmy Rollins, but the Phillies are making him work.

After throwing just 10 pitches in the first, Beckett has tossed a total of 42 in the last two innings.

The relatively lengthy frame gives Cliff Lee plenty of time to catch his breath in the Philadelphia dugout. Lee nearly beat out a grounder to first leading off the third. Beckett covered on the bang-bang play.

Mid 3rd, Phillies 2-0: Cliff Lee's pitch count is up to 32 through three innings. The Phillies bullpen should just go home, rest up for tomorrow.

Lee actually almost gave up his first hit. Josh Beckett, who can swing the bat pretty well, slapped a liner that first baseman Ryan Howard snagged above his head.

That may have been the best cut against Lee so far. 

End 2nd, Phillies 2-0: If Cliff Lee continues doing what he is doing, not just in this game but all month long, then this game is effectively over.

Of course, it isn't, but considering Lee has allowed one run in 35 innings all month, a two-run lead for the Phils seems rather large.

Domonic Brown did the damage with a shot over the wall in right-center field. Beckett followed up a pretty good changeup with a meaty fastball that was crushed by the youngster.

Beckett allowed a single to Ryan Howard to start the inning. A nice force out by Marco Scutaro got one of the outs, otherwise it might've been a three-run homer. But that's revisionist history. Doc Brown taught us that changing one thing completely alters the sequence of events going forward, so it's hard to speculate.

Anyway, nice play by Scutaro. Bad pitch by Beckett, and you wonder if and when he will tire after the toll taken on his body these past two weeks.

Now, let's charge up the flex capacitor and move on to third.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: That inning ought to keep the Darnell McDonald and Mike Cameron haters happy.

Both men are strikeout victims. Both of them looked at a third strike. And both Ks came on just three pitches.

Cliff Lee got Jason Varitek to fly to right in between the punchouts. He walked Kevin Youkilis on four pitches to start it off. Don't blame him with the way the lineup completely drops off a cliff.

End 1st, 0-0: Cliff Lee is twice as good as Josh Beckett so far.

After Lee's five-pitch top of the first, Beckett needs 10 to get through the bottom half.

Lee's scoreless streak is at 24. Beckett's is at 16. That's 1-2 in the majors.

Mid 1st, 0-0: That would be a five-pitch first inning for Cliff Lee. By comparison, he opened his last start with seven straight balls.

Then again, he finished that one with his seocnd straight shutout.

Adrian Gonzalez "falls" to 7-for-11 against Lee with his grounder to second which ends the lightning-quick inning.

7:08 p.m.: Cliff Lee's first pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury is a strike. Feels like October, doesn't it?

6:45 p.m.: By now, you may have heard that David Ortiz is expected to start at first base Wednesday. There is no confirmation from the Red Sox, nor any indication whether this means Adrian Gonzalez will play right field or just sit.

Either way, it will make for an interesting day at the park.

Anyone worried about the John Lackey aspect of this should hope that Gonzalez is just getting his one game off and plays the final 83. Lackey's fly ball rate (41.8 percent) is easily the highest of his career.

If Gonzalez is out there, you will see Jacoby Ellsbury cheating as much as he can. Perhaps Dustin Pedroia plays on the lip of the outfield grass against hitters with little speed. Or, maybe the Sox can petition for softball rules and get a fourth outfielder to play in the gap.

Look for more on this on the site in a bit.

5:56 p.m.: We have made reference to Cliff Lee's dominance already. It's worth an expansion.

Interestingly enough, Lee's 23-inning scoreless streak is tops in the majors ahead of Josh Beckett's 15-inning run. That in itself shows you how special this matchup is.

A few other notes on Lee:

  • He is 16-3 in interleague play — the .842 winning percentage is the best all-time in interleague play.
  • He is the first pitcher to allow just one run or less in 33 innings since teammate Roy Oswalt in 2008. The only other Phillies pitcher to do so in the last 20 years was Randy Wolf.
  • He is 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA in nine starts at home this year.

The one "negative" on the table tonight is Lee's history against the Red Sox. He is 2-4 with a 4.06 ERA in his career against Boston, but 0-3 with a 4.64 ERA in his last five meetings. Lee's teams have lost all five of those encounters.

5:22 p.m.: An astute reader reminded me that John Lackey is pitching tomorrow, so perhaps that would not be the best (or only) chance to get Adrian Gonzalez into right field.

Would you want Gonzalez tracking down doubles in the gap each inning? Of course, Lackey might not give up a double an inning, but his struggles have to be considered when laying out the D.

One guy who will remain at the center of it all, no matter what, is Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox center fielder would be on his high horse each and every time a ball is hit to his left (our right) if Gonzalez was out there.

On the subject of Ellsbury, he has closed the gap significantly on Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton in the race for the third outfield spot on the American League All-Star team. Jose Bautista and Curtis Granderson hold sizable leads for the other two spots.

Hamilton leads Ellsbury by just over 120,000 votes (3,173,000-3,051,675).

Voting for the Midsummer Classic, which takes place July 12 in Arizona, is complete at stadiums around the leagues, but fans can still vote online up to 25 times before 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. The teams will be announced on TBS at noon on July 3. There will be one more vote for the final player on each roster, to be determined by the fans after the rosters are announced.

4:38 p.m.: In this somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece on the Red Sox-Phillies matchups, we gave the nod in bullpens to Philadelphia. That assessment was based on the Phillies having a somewhat healthy Ryan Madson.

Well, Madson has been placed on the DL and the Red Sox have activated both Bobby Jenks and Franklin Morales.

So, if you'll allow me to rehash, I give the Red Sox a 6-5 edge in the aforementioned matchups. They should then win each game of the series by one run.

In other much more interesting news, it seems as if Terry Francona is going to talk to Theo Epstein once more about putting Adrian Gonzalez in right field and playing David Ortiz at first. The move would come in Wednesday's game. If not, it would have to occur in Houston as Francona will not make that move with Cole Hamels on the mound in the series finale Thursday.

Frankly, if the Sox get to Houston and have not pulled the trigger, why do so then? Tomorrow may be the one and only chance.

Stay tuned on that front.

2:58 p.m.: Cliff Lee carries with him plenty of pedigree, his stoicism and surgical precision on the mound almost intimidating at times.

 

None of the Red Sox starters will be shaking in their boots, however. Many have enjoyed their meetings with Lee, even though some of them came before 2008, when Lee's career turned a corner.

Here is the lineup against Lee, followed by some numbers for your enjoyment. We think you might get a kick out of those for Adrian Gonzalez:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Darnell McDonald, LF
Jason Varitek, C
Mike Cameron, RF
Marco Scutaro, SS
Josh Beckett, P

Gonzalez is an incredible 7-for-10 with three doubles, a home run and three RBIs against Lee. Also, Gonzalez has hit .350 (41-for-117) with 13 home runs in 33 games vs. Philadelphia, and has worn out Citizens Bank Park, where his average is .338 (22-for-65) and he has nine homers in just 17 games.

You think Fenway Park is suited for Gonzalez. While with San Diego, he made this place look like Williamsport.

Pedroia is 4-for-11 (.364) and Scutaro is 8-for-25 (.320) with a pair of doubles against Lee.

Cameron and McDonald, the subject of so much ire from fans because of their lack of production, are a combined 4-for-9 (.444) with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs vs. the lefty.

Following is the batting order against Josh Beckett, who has also loved hitting in Philly. It's not on the scale of Gonzalez, but it is worth noting that Beckett is 4-for-10 in this park with two of his three career home runs.

Jimmy Rollins, SS
Placido Polanco, 3B
Chase Utley, 2B
Ryan Howard, 1B
Shane Victorino, CF
Raul Ibanez, LF
Domonic Brown, RF
Carlos Ruiz, C
Cliff Lee, P

Utley is 8-for-25 (.320) with a pair of homers vs. Beckett. Howard is 4-for-13 (.308) with one dinger.

It appears as if Bobby Jenks and Franklin Morales will be activated as well. Tommy Hottovy and Scott Atchison are headed back to Pawtucket.

8 a.m.: The most highly anticipated series of the Red Sox’ interleague slate begins Tuesday night with a wonderful pitching matchup.

It will be Boston righty Josh Beckett, pitching for the first time in nearly two weeks because of an illness, against Cliff Lee, the dominant left-hander that the Philadelphia Phillies signed this offseason.

Beckett had his scheduled start pushed back twice last week as he attempted to return from a flu bug. His last start was June 15 in Tampa Bay, and it was a good one. Beckett gave up only an infield hit in recording his fifth career shutout.

The American League leader in ERA (1.86), Beckett is 8-4 with a 3.98 ERA against Philadelphia.

After an uncharacteristically average May, Lee has been dominant in June. He is 4-0 with a 0.27 ERA this month, throwing his seventh and eighth career shutouts his last two times out.

Boston took two of three in Citizens Bank Park last year and is 18-6 against Philadelphia since 2004.

The first of three games in this series begins at 7:05 p.m., and NESN is there to carry you through.

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