Indians’ Lee wins 16th game, 4-0 over Blue Jays
TORONTO (AP)—Being the American League leader in wins and ERA isn’t likely to go to Cliff Lee’s head.
“It’s just easier when you’re having success,” Lee said of his superb season. “Things go easier, you have more fun. Things flow better when you’re having success. I’m going to continue to just ride it out.”
Even as he carves up the competition, Lee makes sure not to get caught up thinking about a 20-win season or winning the AL Cy Young Award.
“You hear it all the time, you’ve got to keep your mind in the moment,” Lee said. “It’s easier said than done, but it’s something you’ve got to be conscious of. If you feel yourself thinking about the past, or trying to think about the eighth inning in the fourth inning, you’re in trouble already.”
Lee (16-2) lowered his ERA to 2.45, moving him ahead of Oakland’s Justin Duchscherer (2.51) for the major league lead. He won his fifth straight decision and has not lost since a 4-3 defeat at Minnesota on July 6. He gave up eight hits—seven of them singles—with no walks. He struck out one.
“He was in control throughout,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Did a good job moving his fastball around, made some adjustments as the game wore on. Overall, another real good day for Cliff.”
The left-hander is responsible for 16 of his teams 52 wins (31 percent), the highest percentage of any major league pitcher.
“He always makes me look like I know what I’m doing,” catcher Kelly Shoppach said. “I can call any pitch and he can execute it.”
Lee threw 104 pitches, including 83 for strikes, and had only one three-ball count.
“He’s a fun pitcher to play behind,” outfielder Grady Sizemore said. “He attacks the hitters, he goes out there and works the plate. He’s been doing it all year. It’s fun to watch. I hope he can continue this stretch and finish strong.”
The victory was Lee’s first in seven starts against Toronto, the only AL opponent he had never beaten.
Lee pitched nine shutout innings against Toronto on May 12, but the Blue Jays won 3-0 in the 10th against reliever Rafael Betancourt.
Rafael Perez wrapped this one up in the ninth to help Cleveland win for the 15th time in 25 games.
Shin-soo Choo went 3-for-4 with three doubles for the Indians, who finished 6-1 in the season series against Toronto, outscoring the Blue Jays 34-8.
Toronto’s Vernon Wells returned after missing 26 games with a strained hamstring and started as the designated hitter, but finished 0-for-4.
“Good to be back, bad game to be back,” Wells said. “Felt good some at-bats, a little tardy on other ones.”
Scott Rolen (left shoulder) was scratched from the starting lineup and placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game. Rolen revealed July 30 that his surgically repaired shoulder was causing him pain, and has missed five of 11 games since.
Outfielder Kevin Mench, originally optioned to Triple-A when Wells was activated, will take Rolen’s place on the roster.
The Indians jumped on Blue Jays right-hander Scott Richmond (0-2) with a two-run first. Sizemore singled and came around to score when Adam Lind mishandled David Dellucci’s double to left. One out later, Dellucci scored on Jhonny Peralta’s RBI single.
Cleveland made it 3-0 in the third when Choo hit a two-out double and scored on Garko’s single.
Making his third major league start, Richmond gave up three runs and nine hits in five innings. He walked none, hit two batters and struck out five.
The Indians added one more in the eighth against reliever John Parrish. Sizemore’s two-out single scored Garko from second, but Alex Rios threw out Gutierrez at home plate as he tried to score from first. The assist was Rios’ major league-leading 13th of the season.
Shoppach broke his bat over his thigh after striking out to strand runners at first and third in the fourth. Shoppach fanned again in the ninth and has struck out eight times in 12 at-bats. … Toronto has lost the season series to Cleveland five years in a row. … Three of Toronto’s eight shutout losses this year have come against the Indians.