Lee will try to win his fifth straight decision after throwing seven stellar innings in a 6-1 victory over Baltimore on Saturday. The left-hander, who allowed one run and four hits, is unbeaten in seven starts since the All-Star break, and 7-1 in 14 outings since June 1.
He threw eight shutout innings in his previous start, but did not receive a decision in a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Aug. 14 as Cleveland closer Bob Wickman surrendered a home run in the ninth.
“These are the best two outings I’ve strung together in a while,” said the 26-year-old hurler.
Lee is showing no signs of fatigue down the stretch like he did last year in his first full season in the majors. In 2004, he was 9-1 in the first half before going 0-3 in August, and finishing 14-8.
“I feel good,” said Lee, who has a 3.94 ERA during his unbeaten streak. “This is the time of the year that most players start fading out a little bit — start getting tired and feeling little things that you haven’t felt all year.
“Hopefully, I can stay strong and battle through all of that.”
Lee’s recent success is one of the reasons the Indians are in the thick of the AL wild-card race. Cleveland remains in a virtual tie for the lead with the New York Yankees and Oakland despite suffering a 13-3 loss to last-place Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
Victor Martinez homered and had two RBIs for the Indians, who had won nine straight on the road.
Scott Kazmir will take the ball for Tampa Bay on Thursday. He has also been strong since the break.
The 21-year-old left-hander opposed Lee on Aug. 14, striking out seven in six scoreless innings but also did not get a decision.
Kazmir followed up that outing with six solid innings in Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win over Texas on Saturday. He gave up one run in six innings and struck out a career high-tying 10 to improve to 4-1 with a 2.44 ERA in seven starts since the break.
“We’re just playing good baseball all around,” Kazmir said. “Even the ones we don’t come out with the win, we’re always there. We never give up or anything like that.”
The hard-throwing rookie, who has struck out 134 in 146 1-3 innings, is the only Tampa Bay pitcher with a pair of 10-strikeout games.