SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Halladay and Lee and the Road to Victory

Do you remember "Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain," the mantra regarding the Milwaukee Braves teams of the 50's where you had two aces named Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain and then a bunch of guys who weren't all that good? Well, Roy Halladay pitched a complete game against the Nats last night and Cliff Lee pitched another one, a 3-hit gem in which he walked 1 and struck out 12. And that reminds me of a story I once read about Dizzy and Paul Dean, who pitched for the Cardinals' "Gas House Gang" of the 1930's. In game 1 of a double header, Dizzy pitched a two-hit shutout. Paul pitched a no-hitter in the second game. That prompted Dizzy to remark, "Well, if I knew 'ol Paul was going to go out and throw a no-hitter, I would have too." It's been said that you play better when you play with better players. The 2011 Phillies thus far are an example of that, 9-3, having won each of the four series in which they've played. It's easy to get up and go to the ball park then there's an 80% chance that one of your pitchers will be any of Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. It's Oswalt's turn tomorrow in what's quickly becoming baseball's version of "Can You Top This?" Lee's line tonight was 9 innings pitched, 3 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts. Which means that Oswalt would need to go 9 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks and 14 strikeouts to one-up Lee. It's to a degree unlikely, but this rotation is that good. The team won 97 games last year -- most in the regular season of any team -- with a battered lineup and a pitching staff that added Oswalt in August and didn't have Lee for the whole season. Sure, they're laboring with Joe Blanton now, but my recollection is that Blanton hasn't gotten off to fast starts in the past. But with the "Phour Aces" as they're called, repeating that number of wins is a distinct possibility. Roy and Cliff and Watch the Opponents Whiff. Hallelujah! Amen.

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