Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee outpitched Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez in a dominant ace-worthy 1 run, 6 hit effort. The 3rd thru 7th hitters in the Phillies lineup took care of much of the offense as everyone in the Phils lineup collected at least 1 hit. Meanwhile, Lee held the Rockies scoreless for 8 2/3 innings. The Phillies beat the Rockies in the NL division series opener by a 5-1 score on Lee’s complete game masterpiece.
Lee and Jimenez traded goose-eggs, both pitching impressively through the Rockies fifth inning before the Phils took control of the game scoring 2 runs in the fifth inning and 3 more in the sixth, all off of Jimenez.
Some questioned manager Charlie Manuel’s decision to give Lee the ball over the playoff-tested [Cole] Hamels for the first game. But Lee made his manager look brilliant with a masterful performance.
On a day when swirling winds made flyballs an adventure, Lee ignored the elements and shut down the NL’s second-highest scoring offense. Avoiding the adventures that come with the Phillies bullpen, Lee mixed a deceptive fastball with off-speed pitches, had pinpoint accuracy and threw 113 pitches.
The hard-throwing Jimenez was equally impressive against the league’s No. 1-scoring offense for four innings, but ran out of gas in the fifth. He got chased with no outs in the sixth after allowing nine hits and five runs in five-plus innings.
A sellout crowd of 46,452—the largest in the six-year history of Citizens Bank Park—rocked the ballpark, waving their white-and-red “Fightin’ Phils” rally towels. The Phillies were 7-0 at home last October and set a franchise attendance record this season.
Jimenez opened the fifth by walking the leadoff hitter of the inning, rightfielder Jayson Werth. Leftfielder Raul Ibanez followed making the walk to Werth pay off with an RBI double rightfield. 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz grounded to 2nd base for the 1st out of the inning moving Ibanez to 3rd base. Catcher Carlos Ruiz singled to rightfield driving Ibanez with the 2nd Phillies run. Ruiz took 2nd base on the play on an outfield error. Lee then grounded into a fielder’s choice for the 2nd out. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins singled to rightfield with Lee advancing to 2nd base. Centerfielder Shane Victorino flied out to leftfield to end the inning.
The Phils did more scoring in the sixth on Jimenez who left the game with none out in the inning, 2 more Phillies’ runs plated and a runner on 3rd base. 2nd baseman Chase Utley opened with a single to right centerfield and stole 2nd base. 1st baseman Ryan Howard followed with an RBI double to leftfield. Werth following tripling to centerfield scoring Howard with the 4th Phillies’ run and chasing Jimenez. Lefthanded reliever Joe Beimel entered and was greeted by Ibanez who capped the Phillies’ scoring with a single to rightfield. All 5 runs were charged to losing pitcher Jimenez. Beimel was pulled after Ibanez’s hit and replaced by Matt Daley who got Feliz to fly out. The Phils could have had more as Ibanez took 2nd base on Daley’s wild pitch. Ruiz was walked and both runners advanced (to 2nd and 3rd base respectively) on Lee’s sacrifice bunt to the pitcher. But Rollins grounded out to short to end the inning.
That was all the scoring that Lee needed. After giving up 2 hits in the Rockies first inning and a leadoff double by catcher Yorvit Torrealba to open the 2nd, Lee retired the next 16 Rockies he faced before 3rd baseman Garrett Atkins doubled to right with 2 outs in the seventh inning. But Torrealba grounded out to short to end the inning and Lee made short work of the Rox in the eighth.
Colorado succeeded in getting a runner on in the ninth who advanced to 2nd base on a Lee wild pitch with one out. After getting the 2nd out of the inning on a fly to leftfield, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki drove in the only Colorado run with a double to right centerfield for his 2nd hit of the game. But Lee finished with a flourish striking out Atkins swinging on 4 pitches to end the game.
For Lee, who went the full-nine throwing 114 pitches, striking out 5, walking none and giving up the 1 run on 6 hits, it was his 1st career post-season outing and 1st post-season win.
Interesting point to note regarding the Rockies. They used 4 relievers including starting pitcher Jason Marquis who tossed a scoreless eighth inning. It will be interesting to watch the impact on the Colorado starting rotation of having inserted Marquis in relief in game 1.
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