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Thursday October 29, 2009 5:40 pm

Simp-Lee Amazing; Phils Take Game 1

Cliff LeeThe World Series has officially begun, and in a surprising break from expectations with the New York Yankees, the game was over before midnight. But that was probably because Phillies starter (and finisher) Cliff Lee was used to not playing and wanted to get back to it. The last time Lee had pitched was Oct. 18 in Game 3 of the NLCS. His Phillies clinched the series three days later and then had six days off before last night’s game. There’s no doubt that Lee wanted to get back to his comfortable bed.

Lee was not just unhittable, he was virtually untouchable. A complete game near-shut out in the World Series is an accomplishment that few pitchers can claim, and the only unearned run came as a result of a rushed play by Jimmy Rollins in the ninth. Lee himself was magnificent, six-hitting one of the most offensively-charged lineups in baseball, and became the third pitcher in history to record ten strikeouts and zero walks. He also did it with the glove, as Johnny Damon popped a lazy fly to him that Lee caught perhaps even lazier. Later in the eighth, he fielded a Robinson Cano ground ball behind his back and made the throw to first for the out. It was as if Cliff Lee could do no wrong.

The Yankees are going to have to do a quick re-evaluation of the Phillies. After last year’s man-handling of the Tampa Bay Rays and last night’s clinic, Philadelphia is quickly proving to be one of the greatest National League franchises in recent memory. It’s as if these guys could do no wrong, and to this point, they haven’t. Given the opportunity to play in the American League East, the Phillies would probably hold their own against the Yankees and Red Sox, meaning that the Rays, Jays and Orioles would have even worse odds against. But instead, the Phillies find themselves cruising through the NL East.

Tonight A.J. Burnett, the man who looks like a dragon (but not the good kind) will take on Pedro Martinez, the man whom many fans in New York would love to slay. Don’t expect either pitcher to deliver like Lee did last night. Injuries and inconsistencies are the highlights of their respective careers, but give the edge to Martinez, who will be carrying his Cy Young Award to the mound with him like his two predecessors last night, while Burnett’s trophy case remains suspiciously vacant. Expect very much the opposite of what you saw last night, as the bats should wake up and make the new Yankee Stadium proud.

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