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Phillies 7, Pirates 4: Cliff Lee Dominates In Hunter Pence's Phillies Debut

I'm surprised this one was as close as it was. The Phillies' offense was excellent, knocking out 16 hits, few of them cheap. That includes a huge bomb to center by Ryan Howard, a homer by Jimmy Rollins, and four other extra-base hits. James McDonald struck out five and walked two but still gave up five runs over five innings. 

Meanwhile, the Pirates' offense was probably worse than the four runs might make it look. Pedro Alvarez homered, and off a lefty, no less. But Cliff Lee struck out 11 and walked only two, and the Pirates as a team struck out 15 times. 

Hunter Pence made his Phillies debut tonight, and the cheers were enormous. Cory Giger has been making a point on Twitter today that I was also thinking about earlier today - that a team like the Phillies can afford to give up a really good prospect like Jonathan Singleton in part because they can afford to pay for stars who are past their team-controlled years. Many of their stars - Chase Utley, Rollins, Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt - are guys with more than six years of service time, and with their payroll, the Phillies can keep them. The Pirates really can't, or at best they can afford to keep one or two. So when the Phillies want someone like Pence down the stretch, they can trade someone like Singleton. It really doesn't matter. The Pirates can't, because they can't afford to lose out on Singleton if he becomes a cheap, cost-controlled star. That's a hidden advantage that teams like the Phillies have, and they look like much more of a contender right now than the Pirates do.