Phillies Cliff Lee pounds the zone – Nats pound Cliff Lee, win 5-1

Every pitching coach says it: pound the zone! Throw strikes!

Last night, LHP Philadelphia Phillies Cliff Lee threw strikes. From Nationals pound Cliff Lee for four HRs to back Gio Gonzalez in 5-1 winThe Post

After Lee’s first 58 pitches Wednesday night, the Nationals had taken eight balls and swatted four solo home runs. By the end of the night, Lee had thrown 64 strikes in 76 pitches, the second-highest percentage of any starter since 2000.

I can remember what every coach in little league told us when we were batting – make him throw strikes. The Washington Nationals did and knew what to do about it.

Manager Davey Johnson, though, trusted a different omen: He liked the way the Nationals took batting practice. Lee pummels the inside of the strike zone, and Johnson wanted to counter Lee’s aggression with more aggression. In the late afternoon, they attacked pitches.

“There’s a big difference,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, we come into batting practice and we look like we try to hit everything to right field. Today, we were hitting it on the rooftops. We knew who was out there.”

The result:

In the fifth inning, Anthony Rendon to left field. Wilson Ramos to goes oppo boppo to right. In the sixth, Ryan Zimmerman to right center, Jayson Werth to left. Two back-to-back sequences in two innings.

Lee’s strategy was wasn’t terrible – the Nats don’t hit lefties well. Solo home runs are not the worst thing in the world — if the pitcher is resilient, they can still get out of the inning without a lot of pitches, throwing from the stretch or having to hold runners. The Nats just executed better and took advantage of the launching pad that is Citizens Bank Park.

Gio Gonzalez was strong for DC — pitching seven innings and yielding only a run, also on a solo home run. He got into trouble infrequently, but got out of it when he did. He has won his last four starts. The Nats tacked on a run off the Phillies bullpen. They also picked up a game on the Atlanta Braves, who lost yesterday afternoon. Series finale is tonight with Jordan Zimmermann opposing Kyle Kendrick.

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