That Cliff Lee was the most dominant pitcher on the mound tonight at Dodger Stadium came as little surprise. That he was also the best hitter on the field, well, that’s one you may not have seen coming. Lee’s day job first: over eight masterful innings, he struck out 10 while scattering just four harmless singles, two to Jamey Carroll (who attempted to give that goodwill back by making an error and whiffing on a grounder that really should have gone down as a second miscue). Demerit him for allowing Eugenio Velez to walk all you like, what we saw on the mound tonight was pure artistry.
On the other side of the ball, for all the jokes we have at Ted Lilly‘s expense, the veteran lefty was actually pretty solid against a good Phillies lineup. Lilly allowed just six hits and a walk over eight innings, which ties for his second-longest outing as a Dodger, and he even drilled Shane Victorino in the back for good measure. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Ted Lilly game if he didn’t allow a homer, and that’s how we get back to Lee, who took Lilly out to right field in the 7th inning. That made the score 2-0, though with the way Lee was pitching against the unimposing Dodger lineup, it might as well have been 200-0. (Casey Blake singled in Matt Kemp to cut it to 2-1 in the 9th, though that came against Ryan Madson).
So the Dodgers, with a lineup missing Juan Rivera (and just pause for a moment and try to realize that we live in a world where that’s a significant concern) lost to arguably the best left-handed pitcher in baseball. There’s no shame there, and no surprise either. But it’s also not close to being the most important outcome of the night, because the adventures with Dee Gordon‘s right shoulder continue.
Despite how serious Gordon’s injury looked after trying to chase down Kelly Johnson on Saturday, he missed just one full game, entering yesterday as a defensive replacement before starting tonight. In the 6th inning, he unsuccessfully attempted to bunt his way on, and in doing so attempted to evade first baseman Ryan Howard by diving around him, landing hard on his shoulder. Gordon could be seen shaking the shoulder repeatedly the following inning, as Vin Scully was sure to note. In the 8th, he came up against Lee, swinging hard at the second pitch and clearly re-injuring the shoulder. Gordon left the game immediately, thus putting Trent Oeltjen in the impossible situation of coming off the bench cold to face Lee, down 0-2. He grounded into a double play, because of course he did.
There’s no news yet on the severity of Gordon’s shoulder, but I can’t imagine he’ll play tomorrow – nor should he. While it’s certainly important to see if the raw Gordon can handle the 2012 job, it’s not as important as keeping his long-term health in mind. His shoulder, clearly, is not healthy, though since he’s held together by duct tape and chewing gum, perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise. With the season long over, the conservative route is the only way to play this.