PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cliff Lee finished up spring training by having a little fun.
Soon after pitching four sharp innings against Toronto in his final tuneup, the Philadelphia left-hander teamed up with Phillies ace Cole Hamels and joined the Phillie Phanatic in shooting hot dogs into the stands.
“I asked if I could jump in there and get close to that action and see what it was all about,” Lee said after the Blue Jays beat the Phillies 1-0 Friday night. “It was pretty neat.”
There’s no way the intense Lee will be launching hot dogs after a start during the regular season. Other than that, the left-hander looked in midseason form against a formidable and revamped Blue Jays lineup that is being predicted to contend in the tough AL East.
Lee allowed only Jose Bautista’s double. He struck out five, walked none and retired the final 10 batters.
“It felt good,” said Lee, who threw 37 of 48 pitches for strikes. “It’s time to get ready for the real games. Physically I feel good, it’s just a matter of executing pitches. Today I was able to do that and hopefully I can carry that into the first game and throughout the year.”
Lee, set to pitch next Thursday at Atlanta, finished the spring 0-1 with a 4.79 ERA. Last season, it took Lee 14 starts before he earned his first victory in a hard-luck season of limited run support.
Lee is hoping for a turnaround for himself and the Phillies, who were hurt by injuries to stars Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay last season when they finished 81-81 and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
“It feels like there’s a little bit more focus and intensity this spring because of the failure we had last year,” Lee said. “To me that’s a good thing. It’s just a matter of going out and executing, staying healthy. Spring training and getting yourself ready is a huge part of that, and it seems like everyone is focused on those things.”
“It’s my last chance to get ready for the season so I wanted to approach it more like a real outing,” he said.
J.P. Arencibia homered in the fifth inning off Phillipe Aumont for the lone run.
Mark Buehrle was impressive in five innings for Toronto, allowing two hits. He struck out five and walked none.
Buehrle had allowed nine runs and 21 hits in 13 innings earlier this spring, but bore down in his last outing.
“Just with the lights, in a big-league stadium, there’s something about it. It’s easy to know to flip that switch,” he said. “It’s a totally different feeling. It’s kind of hard to explain.”
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons sensed that he was watching a different pitcher than he saw much of the exhibition season.
“He got hit around a little bit in spring training,” Gibbons said. “He’s a veteran guy, he knows it’s his last start and he turned it up a notch. Same way with Lee. They’ve been around a long time, they know what it takes and they know what they need to do.”
“Two of the better ones in the game. They’ve both had great careers. They both work fast, they both command. It was fun to watch,” he said.
Buehrle is making a return to the American League, where he spent 12 years with the Chicago White Sox before a one-year stint with the Miami Marlins last season. A four-time All-Star, the left-hander has won double-digit games in each of the last 12 seasons.
And, like Lee, Buehrle looked like that pitcher on Friday night.
“I felt great,” Buehrle said. “Good way to go into the season.”
The outing was almost too good, the pitcher said.
“I was kind of disappointed that I felt so good,” Buehrle said. “I wish I would’ve saved it for a different game when it counted.”
NOTES: The Phillies announced a crowd of 32,164 that braved a chilly, 52-degree evening that felt colder due to a strong wind blowing in from center field. … The teams complete their spring training schedule at 1:05 on Saturday. Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick is scheduled to face RHP Josh Johnson.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)