There are very few situations where I will find myself rooting against the Boston Red Sox. After more than two decades of faith and devotion, dunking my head into the deep waters of players, personalities, history, stats and memorabilia, I have conditioned myself to always see the good in the hometown team (minus one notable exception).
What happened yesterday, watching Cliff Lee completely dominate the Red Sox, didn’t cause me to loosen those morals. But despite being disappointed with the outcome, I’m still able to step away and appreciate greatness when it presents itself. And the roll that Cliff Lee has been on lately is the stuff of greatness, a tall, cool lefty blessed by the Baseball Gods with equal portions of confidence and control.
The Red Sox have had a rough go of it the past few days. Playing through the interleague schedule, they dropped two out of three to both the last-place San Diego Padres and the slightly less horrible Pittsburgh Pirates. Tuesday night, they opened up a three-game series in Philadelphia against the Phillies, sending Josh Beckett to the mound against Lee, aka Ace No. 2 in the Phillies’ vaunted staff.
I spent the first half of the game in the car before I could watch the final innings at home on my laptop. But through the announcers’ voices, I could practically see the obvious frustration on the faces of the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia? That’ll be a fly ball to right. Adrian Gonzalez? Pop up to second. Kevin Youkilis? Strike out looking. And repeat with different batters each inning.
Lee’s final line was as impressive as it was characteristic. In nine innings, he struck out just five, walked just two, and only faced two batters beyond the minimum 27. The only Red Sox batter to reach second base was Darnell McDonald, of all people, who doubled off Lee in the eighth inning with the game all but secured at 5-0.
This was Lee’s third consecutive shutout, and the game ran his scoreless inning streak to 32. Through it all, he was cool, collected and nearly unhittable.
Cliff Lee, it was an honor to be shut out by you.