Some Fun Trivia on Cliff Lee’s Start vs. Braves

Cliff Lee was at times awe-inspiring and at other times frustrating in his start against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night. But by the end of the night, he had struck out 13 and walked one en route to a complete game effort in which he took the tough-luck 1-0 loss. Opposing starter Julio Teheran was a bit more effective, scattering three singles over nine innings, as the 23-year-old earned his first career shutout.

It wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Lee take home the tough-luck loss — it brought back memories of the time when Lee shut out the San Francisco Giants over 10 innings but got the no-decision when Matt Cain blanked the Phillies over nine, and then Antonio Bastardo gave up a walk-off RBI single.

In fact, it was the fifth time in his career that Lee pitched a complete game and still got the loss. It was the second time he had done so while allowing one run, matched in his last start against the Braves on September 27, 2013 (coincidentally, he also struck out 13). There’s plenty more trivia:

Lee controversially took the mound for the start of the ninth inning, having already thrown 114 pitches. But the Phillies’ bullpen hasn’t been very good to start the season, so manager Ryne Sandberg may have been reticent to go to the ‘pen when Lee was pitching well. However, one could argue that any of the Phillies’ relievers would have been a safer bet than Lee in his fourth trip through the Braves’ batting order.

At the conclusion of the top of the ninth, Lee sat at 128 pitches. It marked just the second time in his career that he had thrown 125 or more in a start, the other occurring on June 22, 2011 against the Cardinals. 128 pitches is the current high pitch count in the early going, and was equaled or surpassed by only five pitchers last season, as Corey Seidman notes: Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Anibal Sanchez, Tim Lincecum, and Adam Wainwright. They all won. The last pitcher to throw 128-plus pitches in a loss was Ryan Dempster, then a Cub, on September 13, 2011 against the Reds. This is perhaps the most staggering piece of trivia, however:

While Wednesday night’s game didn’t end happily, it was at least interesting for most of the game, like it was on Monday. We’ll see if the Phillies’ offense can wake up again as A.J. Burnett opposes Alex Wood this afternoon. After the game, the Phillies will fly out to Colorado for a three-game set with the Rockies.

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