Cliff Lee dominates AAA hitters, ready for Friday.
By Mike Salk
Good news Mariners fans! The team may have been swept in Chicago with all three of their primary relievers giving up key home runs. But Cliff Lee is healthy and ready for his debut on Friday at home against Texas.
Lee was dominant in his lone rehab start on Sunday, looking every bit the Cy Young award winner against AAA hitters from the Salt Lake Bees. He threw six innings of shutout ball, allowing only three hits and no walks while striking out four. Lee was originally scheduled to throw 80-85 pitches but left after just 68 because he had pitched deep enough into the game. 46 of those 68 pitches were strikes.
â€œI definitely could have kept going,â€ said the Mariners co-ace. â€œI felt strong the whole time. It’s really more of a precautionary type deal to ease back into it but, physically, I feel like I could keep going, for sure. Still, it’s better safe than sorry.”
Of the three hits, only one was hit with any authority. The first was a bunt single to lead off the fourth, the second came in the ensuing at bat when centerfielder Ezequiel Carrera lost a pop fly in the sun. With runners on first and second an no outs, Lee worked himself out of trouble. He needed just five pitches to induce a double play and a pop fly to center.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Lee’s outing was his ability to throw all four of his pitches. His fastball sat around 90-91 MPH and his cutter and change up were very effective. He said later that his curveball wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked, but it was good enough for a swinging strike three against Gary Patchett in the fifth inning.
â€œI thought he threw all his pitches and repeated his delivery very well,â€ said one scout who watched from behind the plate. â€œI don’t think he threw the same pitch consecutively to any batter. That’s hard to do. He also threw all four of his pitches in a single at bat. That is rare.â€
Lee says he is ready to go now against Texas on Friday. In fact, he is flying to meet his teammates in Kansas City on Monday.
â€œI’m anxious,â€ said the lefty. â€œI can’t speed up the clock. I’ve still got work to do between now and then too. As a starting pitcher, you’re almost more focused on the days between – what you’ve got to do to prepare – and then when you go out there on your day it’s just go out there and have fun. I got to continue to prepare and make sure I do everything I can and know to do to get ready and then on Friday it’s just go out there and have fun. Let it all hang out.â€
Lee is getting on a flight tomorrow but he will join us at 11:00 on Brock and Salk before he goes. Tune in!