Lee, trying to move into a tie for the major league lead in wins, takes the mound for a last-place Indians team trying to end its struggles at the plate in the finale of a three-game interleague series with the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night.
Lee (10-1, 2.45 ERA) has shut down more than his share of lineups, allowing two runs or less in each of his last three starts and winning four straight decisions. A win Thursday would put him into a tie for the major league lead in wins, currently shared by the Los Angeles Angels’ Joe Saunders and Arizona’s Brandon Webb.
San Francisco’s hitters stand in the way, but Lee may need to be more concerned with Cleveland’s lineup and getting enough run support. The Indians (35-43) are in danger of being swept in this series after scoring a total of three runs in the first two games.
“If (opposing pitchers are) having success, they’re not going to change anything until we force them to,” Indians manager Eric Wedge told the team’s official Web site.
Cleveland managed just six hits in a 4-1 loss to San Francisco (34-44) on Wednesday night, falling to 0-4 all-time at home against the Giants. The Indians went 0-2 at home en route to losing the 1954 World Series to the Giants in four games.
A breakout game at the plate would certainly help Cleveland’s cause, and its hitters are usually productive when Lee is pitching. Lee has gotten an average of 6.02 runs per start.
In his last outing, Lee gave up one run and six hits in 7 1-3 innings as Cleveland beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 in 10 innings on Friday night.
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who went 2-for-5 with three RBIs in Lee’s last start, is expected to be back in the lineup after resting Wednesday. He is second on the team with 11 home runs.
Casey Blake started at third base, but moved to shortstop for the first time in his career in the eighth inning. Blake tops the Indians with 45 RBIs, and is batting .423 (11-for-26) in his last seven games.
Blake and Cleveland’s lineup will be facing San Francisco’s Matt Cain (4-5, 4.31 ERA), who is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA in his last three starts.
The right-hander earned a win in his last outing, giving up four runs— three earned—and five hits while striking out eight in eight innings as San Francisco beat Kansas City 9-4 on Friday night.
Cain is 3-6 with a 3.62 ERA in 10 interleague starts. This will be his first appearance against Cleveland.
Brian Wilson has closed out three of Cain’s wins. He pitched the ninth Wednesday for his NL-leading 21st save in 23 chances, and 12th in a row.
He has helped the Giants win this series even though they have scored a total of seven runs.
San Francisco left fielder Fred Lewis is expected to be back in the lineup after missing his first game of the season. Lewis had a career-best 12-game hitting streak end Tuesday.