Cliff Lee came up big for Phillies
by Scott Butler 4/5/13

Two nights ago at about 7 pm it felt like one of those cartoons where an angel sits atop your right shoulder and the devil sits over your left.  Last night they were arguing about the Phillies 0-2 start.

The angel says, “Don’t worry about it! The Phillies were 0-2 in 2009 and made it to the World Series and they became division winners in 2007 after an 0-3 start.”

Then the devil chimes in, “This is absolutely a must-win.  You can’t win it in April but you sure can lose it in April.”

No matter how you perceive things in Phillies World, this was a good win for the Phils.

Cole Hamels, the new “ace” of the staff was demolished in the opener.  Then Roy Halladay, the Phils former ace, showed his mortality.  And the Braves hit anything with stitching and seams a very long way.  After just two games against a powerful Braves lineup, the realization began to settle that the Phillies might simply be overmatched by the Braves and the Nationals.  Your thinking begins to switch from winning the division to hoping for the Wild Card. 

It just demonstrates the apparent magnitude of each win and loss in April because I actually feel pretty good about the what I have seen from the Fightins.  Utley looks fantastic, the Phillies have a true leadoff hitter, Rollins is hitting and seemingly content in his new position in the lineup, and Brown remains hot.

But they need to start winning.

Game #3 is where things needed to turn around.  You can easily argue away the first two games: Hamels just had a bad outing and Halladay was still figuring things out – both reasonable conclusions.  But with all the money invested in those three arms, Cliff Lee couldn’t be another excuse.  This time he needed to be the stopper.  No excuses.  It was Cliff Lee’s job to stop the bleeding, not Kendrick or Lannan.  I blasted both Hamels and Lee last year for not stepping up at a crucial point in the season when Halladay went down.  Cliff came up big this time.

Baseball, like most sports, is a game of momentum.  Better contain that fire quick before it starts to spread.  It’s part of the reason the 2011 Phillies won so many games.  They rarely went on big winning streaks, but hardly ever lost more than a couple in a row.

The Phils were staring down a sweep at the hands of a division rival, but walked away with just losing the series. Rather than dwelling on the negatives on a flight to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee allowed them to listen to the angel, if even just for one day.

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