Phillies end five-game slump; Lee voices frustration

Ben Revere swats a single to start the game against Minnesota. Revere eventually scored the Phillies' first run on a single by Ryan Howard.
Ben Revere swats a single to start the game against Minnesota. Revere eventually scored the Phillies' first run on a single by Ryan Howard. (   KYNDELL HARKNESS / Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Posted: June 15, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS - The door to the visiting manager's office opened and Charlie Manuel sat there, with his hand on his head. His Phillies had just won for the first time in six days, a 3-2 win over Minnesota that accentuated every flaw of this mediocre team.

The Phillies banged out 16 hits. They stranded 16 runners. They scored three times.

"We had them all the way," Manuel said. "Jeez. Are you kidding me?"

Across the hallway, Cliff Lee was in no jovial mood. He faced the minimum hitters through six innings and still almost lost. It is a familiar feeling for Lee, who signed for less money before the 2011 season to play in Philadelphia because he believed it was his best shot at a World Series. He plays for a 32-35 team with diminished hopes.

"We're the Philadelphia Phillies," said Lee, owner of a 2.55 ERA. "We should play better than we have."

Can the Phillies win as currently constructed?

"I can't look at it any other way, besides, I expect us to win and catch up with the Braves and get into the postseason," Lee said. "That's the only way you can look at it."

What if it does not turn around?

"I definitely want to win," he said. "There's no doubt about that."

But if it does not, is he prepared to stay and pitch for a losing team?

"I don't have any control over that," Lee said. "I know that I want to win and I'll voice that to whoever. And that's that. I want to win here. That's why I signed here. And that's where my focus is."

Lee's name will surface in trade rumors during the next six weeks. He could be the player most in demand come July. Lee has a partial no-trade clause. His best shot at winning may come elsewhere, and Lee did not exactly sound as if he would stand in the way of such a move.

The 2 hours and 54 minutes of baseball played Thursday did little to instill confidence. His teammates hit into bad luck, but plodding runners and no threats of power clog innings. Still, a five-game losing streak is no more.

It marked just the second time in franchise history that the Phillies scored three or fewer runs on 16 or more hits in a nine-inning game. The other instance was in 1954. Such a game has happened eight times in all of baseball since 1916, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

The 16 men left on base were one short of tying a Phillies record for a nine-inning game. Fourteen of their 16 hits were singles.

Right after disaster struck Lee in the seventh, the Phillies jumped on Twins reliever Jared Burton. Kevin Frandsen delivered a pinch-hit double. Ben Revere bunted for a single. Michael Young singled to right before Jimmy Rollins tapped one to first base that was slow enough to score Revere with the decisive run on a fielder's choice.

Lee retired the first 10 batters and 17 of 18. Joe Mauer walked in the seventh. Ryan Doumit tapped one up the third-base line that Young did not immediately charge. He fielded it, fired to first, and Doumit was called safe although replays suggested otherwise.

The call incensed Lee. He waved his glove in anger. Two batters later, Justin Morneau smacked a high cutter to center. Revere dove but failed to grab it. Two runs scored. Somehow, Lee trailed.

"Well, he was out at first," Lee said. "Mauer was struck out and they called it a ball. Both of those guys scored, so I basically had to get five outs in that inning."

Lee exited then because of a blister on his left middle finger. His counterpart, Kevin Correia, threw 112 pitches in five innings. The Phillies found new ways to strand runners with every inning. It was an unusual formula for victory.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter @magelb.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|