SAN FRANCISCO -- Ben Francisco might have been the least impressed person in a Phillies clubhouse that buzzed Friday night at AT&T Park.
He had seen this many times before."That's pretty much vintage Cliff," he said with a smile following a 5-1 victory over the Giants.
Cliff Lee, the 2008 American League Cy Young winner, made his eagerly anticipated Phillies debut after the Phillies acquired him and Francisco from the Indians in a trade Wednesday for prospects Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Jason Knapp. Lee lived up to the hype. He threw a complete game, allowing four hits, one run and two walks and striking out six. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He went 2-for-4 with a double, which would have been a home run at Citizens Bank Park. "I'm kind of glad I didn't throw a no-hitter," Lee said. "If I do that on the first try, I would have to be living up to some high expectations." The funny thing is, the Phillies and their fans already have high expectations. Lee is the first Cy Young winner to pitch for the Phillies since Fernando Valenzuela in 1994. He also is just the fourth defending Cy Young winner to change teams mid-season. The Twins shipped Frank Viola to the Mets in 1989, the Blue Jays sent David Cone to the Yankees in 1994 and the Indians sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers in 2008. Lee is expected to anchor the rotation with Cole Hamels, last year's World Series MVP. He is expected to help the Phillies win a second consecutive World Series. "He embarrassed us all by getting hits, throwing nine," Hamels joked. "It was fun. I think we all enjoyed how quick he works, how he gets guys out. Having a guy that really puts a lot of pressure on the other team makes it easier for our offense and for our defense because they're always in the game." Hamels has said in the past how he felt a friendly competition between himself and Brett Myers. They pushed each other to pitch better. Lee and Hamels could do the same. "For how he can help out [J.A.] Happ and I, it's going to be pretty fun the rest of the year," Hamels said. "Obviously, we've got him next year, too. That's really cool. You never imagine that something like this could really be possible. He fits in really well with all of us. I think that's even better, knowing that he's one of us." Lee retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced when Juan Uribe hit a flare into the right-field corner for a double to break up the no-hitter with one out in the sixth inning. He allowed his only run in the eighth inning, and after allowing a leadoff single in the ninth to Eugenio Velez, he got Pablo Sandoval to pop out to Jimmy Rollins and Bengie Molina to hit into a game-ending double play. "He was fun to play defense behind," said Jayson Werth, who went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. "He gets the ball and he knows what to do. He throws strikes. He attacks the hitters. He's good." Werth's solo homer to left field in the second gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. He snapped the team's 0-for-33 streak with runners in scoring position with a two-run single to center field in the seventh inning to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead. But the night belonged to Lee, who looked every bit as good as advertised. "A shutout would have been nice," bench coach Pete Mackanin joked as he passed Lee in the clubhouse. But Lee certainly had a presence about him on the mound. He worked fast. He pitched aggressively. He meant business. "There's no secret to why guys like him and Timmy [Lincecum] have Cy Youngs," Giants pitcher Ryan Sadowski said. "You watch those guys pitch and they're consistently great. There's one thing to be consistently good, and there's one thing to be consistently great." "It's real nice to see how good of a pitcher he really is, you know?" Paul Bako said. Lee just wanted to go out and do his job. He flew to San Francisco on Wednesday, met his teammates Thursday and finally got to pitch Friday. Piece of cake. "It's a loose clubhouse," Lee said. "It was an easy transition for me. I was more worried about getting to know the guys and getting comfortable with the situation than actually pitching. When I get on the field, I can just throw to the mitt and everything else is irrelevant." The Phillies are pretty relevant these days. They have real World Series aspirations, and after watching Lee pitch Friday, they like them even more.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.