Phils pitcher Cliff Lee celebrates with Shane Victorino at the top of the dugout after hitting his second home run of the season in the 7th inning. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Cliff Lee was forcing the Philadelphia fans to fall in love with the left-handed pitcher even more than they already had two years prior.
Lee’s swagger off the mound, his abilities on the bound and his ability to win over the hearts of more and more fans intensified when Lee belted not one, but two home runs through the course of the 2011 season.
On July 9, Lee provided the only run support he would get in the Phillies 4-1 loss. Granted they lost 4-1 in 11 innings due to a poor 11th inning by reliever Michael Stutes, the game was remembered for what Lee did at the plate.
In the 3rd inning, he faced Braves starter Tommy Hanson for the first time of the game. He worked a long, 10-pitch at-bat full before he sent Hanson’s pitch into the right-centerfield stands for his first career home run.
The 700 Level couldn’t have said it any better that day:
“In the bottom of the third inning of the Phillies-Braves game at Citizens Bank Park, the FOX telecast gave a headset to one of the Atlanta players to add some colorful commentary to the action. It could not have gone any better.
“Ohhhhh nooooo. Noooo. Are you kidding me? Woooow.”
That’s what Braves’ ace Jair Jurrjens had to say as he watched Cliff Lee rip the tenth pitch…”
Exactly a month later, Lee repeated the feat.
On August 9, while holding a 1-0 lead, Lee helped his cause when he hit a solo homer off Ted Lilly in the bottom of the 7th inning. Los Angeles would go on to score a run in the 9th but if it weren’t for Lee’s shot, the Phils wouldn’t have won 2-1.
Lee added an incredible performance on the mound that day, allowing only four hits and striking out 10 in eight innings of work.
Lee enjoyed a Cy Young-esque season for the Phils this season. At the plate, it was all fun and games, not just for Lee but for the fans as well.
Who knows what next year will bring. But one thing is certain: the fan base isn’t done swooning over their beloved pitcher.