After the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee during those halcyon days of 2009, it seemed as if the much coveted ace couldn’t lose at Citizens Bank Park. These days Lee can’t win in South Philadelphia. The hard luck ace is 0-6 this season at Citizens Bank Park.
It’s starting to seem like the film “Groundhog Day” whenever Lee takes the rubber in Philly. The increasingly exasperated hurler typically pitches a very good game, in which he can win but he has little to no margin for error. That’s the way it was for Lee once again Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds, who edged the Phillies, 5-4.
Lee tossed six shutout innings, but coughed up a 1-0 lead in the seventh. The lefty was visibly upset after giving up three runs and leaving the game.
“I was just mad that we had a one-run lead and I gave them a two-run lead,” Lee said. “I was pretty frustrated.”
It was a rare display of emotion for Lee who has done a great job at keeping his feelings in check. Who could blame Lee for losing his temper?
“It’s been a strange season,” Lee said.
Lee didn’t take the loss, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the NL Central leaders. Antonio Bastardo was touched for a homer to rookie Todd Frazier, which gave the Reds the lead in the eighth. The Phillies tied the game courtesy of a Kevin Frandsen triple. However, Jonathan Papelbon gave the lead right back to the Reds. His first pitch of the ninth, to Zack Cozart, landed in the left-field seats for the decisive run. The closer blamed his approach.
“I’m thinking, ‘It’s a tie game, the lead-off hitter is probably going to take one and try to manufacture a run off me.’ I’ve got to go out there and throw a better strike.”
There were some bright spots. Aside from his triple, Frandsen, who has been consistent with the bat since being called up last month, made the play of the night. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the sixth, he made a nice stop to his left and fired a strike to catcher Erik Kratz for a force at the plate. Lee induced a groundball for a double play to end the threat.
“If it’s a hard hit ball, we’re going for two and we’ll surrender the run,” Frandsen said. “I told myself that if I have to lay out, I’m going to turn and fire home, and that’s what I did.”
Even with Frandsen’s clutch performance, the Phillies couldn’t hold a lead or find a way to win the ballgame. The contest in many ways sums up the 2012 campaign. The Phillies couldn’t muster up enough support for Lee, who didn’t have much margin for error.
“We’ve got to find a way to win these games,” Lee said. “It’s been an unbelievable year.”