Two of the Phillies’ top three starters have stymied the Brewers thus far, and the assignment only gets tougher Saturday night as Cliff Lee(notes) tries to extend his latest remarkable scoreless streak.
Things didn’t go much better Friday. Roy Halladay(notes) held Milwaukee to one run and four hits over eight innings of Philadelphia’s 5-3 win, its fifth straight and the Brewers’ fourth consecutive loss..
The Phillies’ magic numbers are three to clinch a playoff spot and nine to wrap up a fifth straight NL East title. They’re also 10 1/2 games up on Milwaukee for the NL’s best record.
“There’s no break,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “You don’t look forward to facing any of their starters.”
Over the past three months, there’s been no one better than Lee - and that’s been even more true over the last six weeks.
The left-hander was 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA through May, but he’s 12-2 since the beginning of June with a 1.53 ERA, nearly half a run better than Justin Verlander’s(notes) 2.02 - the majors’ second-best in that span.
Lee also has five shutouts in that stretch, a total that’s more than the staffs of 23 teams - and four more than the Brewers have delivered all season.
On Monday, Lee picked up his sixth shutout of the season, something baseball hadn’t seen since Randy Johnson(notes) accomplished the feat in 1998. Lee pitched a five-hitter against Atlanta in a 9-0 win, the seventh consecutive start he’s been victorious. His ERA is 0.96 in those outings.
Lee hasn’t allowed a run in 29 2-3 innings - the second-longest streak for any starter this season.
No. 1? Lee’s 34-inning stretch June 11-July 3.
“I guess that’s pretty good,” Lee said. “It is what it is. Obviously that’s a good thing anytime you pitch the whole game and not give up any runs. But I don’t think this is a time to pat myself on the back.”
Lee is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers, though, and he’ll certainly need to pitch carefully to Prince Fielder(notes). Milwaukee’s first baseman is 5 for 6 with a homer off the former AL Cy Young Award winner.
The Brewers counter with Randy Wolf(notes) (12-9, 3.47), who’s been pretty good himself over the past six weeks. The left-hander’s lone loss since July came when he gave up six runs over five innings against St. Louis on Aug. 31, but he bounced back Monday by holding the Cardinals to one run in eight innings of a 4-1 win.
Wolf has gone at least seven innings while allowing either one run or none in four of his last eight starts.
He’s 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA in six starts against Philadelphia - his original major league club - which he held to two hits over six innings of a 9-0 road victory April 19.
Both Jimmy Rollins(notes) (groin) and Chase Utley(notes) (head) remain out of the Phillies’ lineup, but Wolf should be worried about Carlos Ruiz(notes). Philadelphia’s catcher is 5 for 9 with a homer and three doubles lifetime versus Wolf.