As if he never left

November 2, 2009 was the last time fans in Citizens Bank Park saw Cliff Lee throw a pitch.

One year and five months. 516 days.

Phillies starter Cliff Lee pitches against Houston in the first inning. It was his first time back in CBP in almost a year and a half. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

That’s a helluva lot of time. But the reunion was magical. Fans stood for minutes, greeting Lee with a standing ovation he will never forget.

“These fans have a knack for getting a little louder than everyone else,” Lee said after the game. “I don’t know if it’s alcohol-induced or what.”

Lee had to thank the fans some how and what better than a very strong return performance, leading the Phils to a 9-4 win and 2-0 start.

Lee pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on four hits and hitting one batter. Lee struck out 11 as well, the 10th time in his career he hit double-digits in K’s.

He got plenty of run support as well. The Phils offense, who scored all five of yesterday’s runs in the last three innings, scattered nine runs throughout the game.

The Phils drew first blood in the bottom of the first. Ryan Howard hit an RBI single to drive in Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez ripped an RBI double to score Howard from first.

Polanco finished the day 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Howard went 2-for-5 with a run and RBI. He struck out his other three at-bats. Ben Francisco and Ibanez each had two hits and drove in two runs.

Shane Victorino hit a two-run single in the fourth to make it a 4-1 game before leaving with soreness in his left calf. He left after colliding with Ben Francisco in right-center in the fifth inning. John Mayberry replaced Victorino, going 0-for-2.

J.A. Happ will not make his season debut tomorrow against Roy Oswalt. Bud Norris will start in Happ’s place.

2B: Ibanez (1), Francisco (1), Ruiz (1).

WP: Lee (1-0). LP: W. Rodriquez (0-1).


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