NEW YORK (AP)—Cliff Lee knows he probably won’t win all of his starts this season. That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to try.
“I’ve got to focus on this next outing and if I do that and continue to do that things should go the way they have gone,” Lee said. “Obviously I can’t expect to put up zeros every single time but it’s my job to put up as many as I can and get deep into the game and give the team a chance to win.
“I’ve done that so far and hopefully it continues.”
Lee became the first Indians pitcher to win his first six starts since Greg Swindell in 1988 and lowered his major league-best ERA to a microscopic 0.81. The left-hander has allowed just four earned runs in 44 2-3 innings after a rough 2007 that included a stint in the minors.
“Cliff is in the groove right now,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
Wang (6-1) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings for the Yankees, who dropped to 3-5 on their nine-game homestand. Hideki Matsui singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, matching a career high.
New York fell to 27-8 in 35 career starts by Wang following a Yankees loss, ending an 11-game winning streak in those games. He fell to 22-7 in those starts.
“A lot of nights that’s good enough,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He gave us seven good innings. Unfortunately we couldn’t score any runs for him.”
Victor Martinez had a sacrifice fly in the first inning, Casey Blake singled in a run in the fourth and David Dellucci added an RBI single in the fifth. Dellucci was booed before each of his at-bats after his pinch-hit three-run homer off Joba Chamberlain lifted Cleveland to a 5-3 victory Tuesday night.
“That’s two straight days our offense has been pitiful,” said Johnny Damon, who is 0-for-9 in the last two games.
The Indians have won the first two of the three-game set to secure their first winning series at Yankee Stadium since June 2001. They improved to 4-2 against New York this season, clinching their first season series win since they went 7-6 against the Yankees in 1992.
Lee (6-0) set it up with another impressive performance, allowing just six hits and striking out seven. He hasn’t walked a batter in his last 28 innings.
“They had a lead and he just kept attacking the strike zone,” Damon said. “He did exactly what he needed to do.”
The matchup between Wang and Lee was the first between two pitchers with at least a 5-0 record since Oakland’s Dave Stewart faced Swindell on May 8, 1988, according to Elias. Stewart moved to 8-0 with a four-hitter, beating Swindell and Cleveland 5-1.
Lee will go for his seventh straight win to open the season Monday against Toronto. His fast start would’ve been hard to predict a year ago, when he began the season on the disabled list, spent some time at Triple-A Buffalo and was left off Cleveland’s playoff roster.
“Mainly just locating my fastball a little better,” Lee said about the difference this year. “Working ahead in the count, staying out of hitter’s counts, 2-0, 3-1, trying to stay ahead in the count. Obviously, locating my fastball is the key.”
The Yankees put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth but Lee struck out Morgan Ensberg and got Jose Molina to fly out to deep right. He fanned Matsui with runners on second and third to end the sixth.
Alex Rodriguez (strained right quadriceps), Jorge Posada (right shoulder) and Phil Hughes (stress fracture in rib) are expected to travel to New York’s spring-training facility in Florida on Thursday to continue rehabbing their injuries. Rodriguez ran in the outfield, played catch, fielded grounders and took batting practice before Wednesday night’s game. … Indians 3B Andy Marte singled in the fifth to snap an 0-for-14 skid. … Martinez went 0-for-3, ending a 15-game hitting streak. The All-Star catcher served as the designated hitter after he was scratched from Tuesday night’s game with a stiff neck. … The Indians scheduled a doubleheader with Kansas City for Sept. 13 to accommodate a game that was postponed due to rain last week. … Wang allowed four hits over seven innings in a 1-0 win at Cleveland on April 27.