Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee continued to enjoy his maiden voyage in the National League and the Phillies' bats provided him ample run support in leading the defending World Series champions to an 11-0 Game Three victory and a 2-1 edge over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS.
Lee pitched eight scoreless innings and was aided by Jayson Werth’s two-run homer and a three-run blast from Shane Victorino. Six Phillies had extra-base hits including Ryan Howard’s two-RBI triple in the first inning and Jimmy Rollins’ first RBI of the postseason on an RBI-double in the second inning.
Lee’s first foray in playoff baseball has been a huge success as the Phillies have won all three of Lee’s postseason starts. He has a 0.74 postseason ERA and has pitched into the eighth inning of each of his starts.
The 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner is also having fun batting in the National League. He even joined the offensive party, scoring on Victorino’s home run after reaching first base with a single in the eighth inning.
The lefthander’s breathtaking performances have taken center stage but no one should cast aside the Phillies’ offensive tour de force.
Center fielder Shane Victorino, second baseman Chase Utley, first baseman Ryan Howard, and right fielder Jayson Werth, Nos. 2-5 in the Phillies lineup, launched another assault on the Dodgers after scoring eight runs in the series opener before relenting in 2-1 Game Two loss.
Howard, the NL’s RBI leader, leads all postseason batters with 12 RBI and has an RBI in every postseason game. After striking out 186 times in 160 regular season games, Howard only has five strikeouts in the postseason, none in the last two games.
Werth, who hit a career-high 36 home runs and was selected to his first All-Star team this season, has three home runs in the playoffs, tied with the New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez for the postseason lead.
Victorino has also hit two postseason home runs and along with Utley has reached base in every game, providing Howard with plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.
Their postseason batting averages are astounding: Victorino, .345; Utley, .346; and Howard, .386.
But Philadelphia’s starters have been just as effective as its hitters. Cole Hamels won Game One and Pedro Martinez pitched seven shutout innings before being lifted in Game Two. Los Angeles has only scored one run in the last two games and has only scored in four of the 27 innings played thus far.
The Dodgers pack a similarly heavy punch, but the team’s bullpen, considered one of the team’s many strengths, will be stretched after starter Hiroki Kuroda gave up six runs was lifted in the second inning. Los Angeles has to find a way to neutralize the aggressive hitting of Philadelphia’s sluggers.
The Phillies are on fire and the Dodgers need strong pitching outings and more run support from its hitters to tie the series and send it back to Los Angeles for a Game Six.