Lee looks to become the first pitcher in the AL to 16 victories as the Indians go for a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Sunday.
Lee (15-2, 2.58 ERA) is tied with Mike Mussina of New York for the league lead in wins and trails Arizona’s Brandon Webb, who tops the majors in victories, by one. Lee also owns the second-best ERA in the majors behind Oakland’s Justin Duchscherer (2.51).
Lee, however, could have a tough time getting win No. 16, as he’s 0-3 with a 5.01 ERA in six career starts versus the Blue Jays. The left-hander threw nine scoreless innings against Toronto (59-58) on May 12, but the Blue Jays lost 3-0 in 10 innings.
Lee went seven innings Monday, allowing two runs and throwing 115 pitches in a 5-2 win at Tampa Bay. The left-hander, undefeated at home, improved to 9-2 with a 2.68 ERA in 13 road starts.
“Honestly, I didn’t have my best stuff,” he said. “Most of the innings I felt I had to battle quite a bit. They put me to the test pretty good.”
Lee bounced back nicely after giving up a season high-tying six runs in five innings July 30, when he helped to squander an 8-1 lead in Cleveland’s 14-12, 13-inning loss to Detroit. Despite that outing, Lee is 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA over his last five starts.
“He made some pitches,” manager Eric Wedge told the Indians’ official Web site Monday about Lee’s last start. “He was back to his old self.”
Now, Lee will be trying to lead Cleveland (51-64) to its first sweep in Toronto since taking three games May 24-26, 2002. The Indians beat the Blue Jays 4-2 on Saturday, improving to 5-1 against them this season.
David Dellucci had three hits and Ryan Garko drove in two runs for Cleveland, which has outscored Toronto 30-8 this season. Garko was 2-for-4 in his first game since being pulled Wednesday for failing to run out a grounder.
“These last three or four days have been a little tough,” Garko said. “I’ve talked to a lot of my teammates and obviously all the coaches. It’s tough because you never want to be in a position where you feel like you’re not being the kind of player you want to be.”
The Blue Jays have managed four runs in this series after scoring 21 while sweeping a four-game set against Oakland this week. Joe Inglett was 3-for-4 and Lyle Overbay went 2-for-4 on Saturday, but Toronto had only one other hit.
The Blue Jays will try to bounce back behind Scott Richmond (0-1, 4.91), who will make his third career start. The right-hander gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings of Toronto’s 4-3 win over the Athletics on Tuesday, six days after falling 3-2 in his major league debut against Tampa Bay.
“He kept us in the game,” manager Cito Gaston told the Blue Jays’ Web site Tuesday. “That’s what’s important.”