Cliff Lee found himself in the midst of a historic run prior to
getting hit hard in his last start.
In contrast, Tommy Hanson’s career-best winning streak remains
alive following another impressive performance.
In a premier pitching matchup, Lee takes the mound opposite
Hanson, who tries to win a sixth straight start when the
Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves continue their three-game
set Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
The NL East rivals treated fans to a pitchers’ duel during
Friday’s series opener as Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay and Atlanta’s
Brandon Beachy each allowed two runs before Raul Ibanez hit a
walk-off homer in the 10th inning to give the Phillies (56-33) a
3-2 victory – their 12th in 14 home games.
“A 3-2 game, it might be the same tomorrow and Sunday,” Braves
manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel’s 600th career win with the
franchise increased the Phillies’ division lead to 3 1/2 games over
Atlanta (53-37), which had outscored opponents 50-25 during a 9-1
stretch entering Friday.
The Braves, however, managed just six hits off Halladay before
failing to reach base in three innings versus Phillies relievers.
Getting things going offensively could again prove difficult
against Lee (9-6, 2.92 ERA).
Lee, who went 5-0 with an MLB-low 0.21 ERA in June and became
the first Phillies pitcher since 1950 to throw three consecutive
shutouts, got off to a rough start this month. The 2008 AL Cy Young
Award winner saw his career-best scoreless-innings streak end at 34
after yielding seven runs – six earned – and 10 hits in 7 1-3
innings of Sunday’s 7-4 defeat at Toronto.
“I don’t really care about the month I had,” said Lee, who owns
a 6.15 ERA over five career starts against Atlanta. “I care about
today and giving the team a chance to win.”
Lee posted a similar line during his first start versus the
Braves this year, allowing six runs and 10 hits in a season-low 3
1-3 innings of a 6-3 road loss April 8. He, however, was
overpowering during the Phillies’ 5-0 defeat May 6, giving up three
runs and striking out a career-high 16 over seven innings.
While Lee dominated the headlines during his stellar stretch,
Hanson (10-4, 2.52) has quietly gone about business over his
five-start winning streak, during which he’s compiled a 1.97 ERA
and struck out 38 in 32 innings.
Hanson lowered his opponents batting average to .192 after
surrendering one run and four hits in seven innings of Monday’s 4-1
win over Colorado.
“I just wanted to go out there, execute my game plan and worry
about our team,” he told the Braves’ official website. “That’s all
I’m worried about right now – going out and giving us a chance to
win. I’m going to worry about that for the rest of the year.”
Hanson was outstanding in four starts against the Phillies last
season, going 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA. He could post similar numbers
against a Philadelphia lineup missing Shane Victorino and possibly
fellow All-Star Placido Polanco.
Victorino (sprained right thumb) was placed on the 15-day DL on
Friday while Polanco (sore back), who missed his third consecutive
game, is questionable for this one.
Chase Utley, meanwhile, looks to extend his hitting streak to 12
games after going 1 for 5 on Friday. Utley is 4 for 14 (.286)