Cliff Lee is Really Good When He's Late, And We Invaded Nats Park
How's that Bugs Bunny (Wheels!) curve look from the other side, JW?
Cliff Lee threw 99 pitches last night. 74 of them were strikes. 74. That's a 3-1 ratio. Frightening. Lee struck out 12, becoming only the third Phillies pitcher in the last 30 years to strike out at least 12 batters and give up less three or less hits. The other two? Curt Schilling and Steve Carlton.
Lee's night started out much like mine. Our steamy party bus was stuck in D.C. congestion at around 5 P.M., just like Clifton's cab. As was the case before game Game 1 of the 2009 World Series, Lee got to the park much later than he wanted to: [Phillies.com]
Cliff Lee prefers to take taxis to the ballpark before he pitches on the road.
A cab from the Phillies hotel in Virginia to Nationals Park typically takes 15 minutes, but Lee hit traffic because of an accident and he suddenly found Thursday's 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Nationals quickly approaching and the cab barely moving.
"I started to get a little nervous," Lee said.
He arrived at about 5 p.m., roughly 30 minutes later than he had anticipated. He thought it could have been worse.
"I finally saw the ballpark and I was like, 'All right,'" Lee said with relief.
Our nights kind of differed after that. I went on to drink canned Miller Lites in the parking lot before eating a too little for the bun sausage sandwich. Lee threw a complete game shutout. You say tomato, I say, why the fuck can't I throw a cutter?
The invasion of Nats Park was a success. About 60-70% of the crowd was Phillies fans. Our pro-wrestler wannabe friend, David Huzzard, talked about it on his blog, Blown Save, Win, which ironically features a banner of Brad Lidge giving up a postseason blast to Albert Pujols.
I was in D.C. on the edge of Half St. when the depression kicked in. This was no ordinary post Nats’ loss depression though. This is a season long depression, and maybe even more than that. I just kept shaking my head and thinking about having to face Halladay and Lee back to back for seasons to come. I listened to a bit of the post game radio show and checked online and couldn’t believe people were complaining about the offense. Cliff Lee had just put on a pitching clinic and people expected the Nats offense to not only have a chance, but to have gotten to him.
This is no ordinary man on the mound. I will sum up Cliff Lee’s pitching by describing one pitch from late in the ball game. I don’t even remember who the batter was and really it doesn’t matter. Any batter that faces Cliff Lee when Lee is at his best is just an ant waiting to be crushed. Lee quickly got the first two strikes and with total disregard and hatred of waste pitches he threw a curve that started at the batters left shoulder, and then broke down and away to nip the outside corner of the plate. It really truly was a marvelous pitch and one that a human left hander shouldn’t be able to throw to a right handed batter. To make matters worse it wasn’t until the third time through the batting order that Lee started throwing the curve. The batters walked to the plate, and one by one they were reminded of how useless the piece of lumber they held in their hand was against a beast the likes of Cliff Lee.
Heh. So much for that "stand up and fight" mantra from February. It's hard to fight a self-cloaking deuce, David.
Couple of thoughts on Nats Park:
– It look like CBP. Same architect. The fixtures, seats, shapes, outfield area. All identical. Except the guady Jayson Werth banner.
– It's nice, but there's too much going on. The seating bowl looks like a mid-twist Rubik's Cube. Random gaps in the seating area, oddly placed luxury and press boxes, and one too many tunnels to somewhere much more expensive than your seat. It's like bizzaro Yankee Stadium. 32 different seating levels, only no (home) fans.
– Don't be fooled by the nice, high-rise condos surrounding the park. Take a left turn three blocks and you're in the hood.
– The scoreboards are awful. Seated in right field, I had no view of a screen that showed runs, hits, and errors, or that displayed the pitcher's pitch count and strike-to-ball ratio (74-25). Instead, we got the pitcher's total strikeouts for the year. Thanks.
– It was farily obvious how many Phillies bus trips there were. The whole stadium was filled with random pockets of Phillies fans surrounded by empty seats. We moved closer in the sixth inning. An usher asked to see our tickets. We didn't have them, but asked to sit there anway. She said yes. The Nationals should be embarassed.
– Everybody in D.C. looks like the work on "The Hill." Side part? Check. J. Crew attire? Check. Those boating shoes your dad wears? Check. Doesn't know shit about baseball (is that a look?)? Check. Pasty, I watch more Sunday morning pundit shows than is healthily acceptable? Check.
– Cliff Lee.