KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Cliff Lee said he does not pinch himself about the dream season he is having.
Lee, who leads the majors with 21 wins, is 10-0 in 11 starts since a July 6 loss at Minnesota. In those 11 starts, Lee has a 1.84 ERA. He lowered his major league leading ERA to 2.28.
“I really don’t think about it that much,” Lee said. “I think about preparing each day and doing everything I need to do to get ready for my next start. I don’t really reflect back on previous outings and what I’ve done or look too much ahead of today. That’s been a key to me being successful this year. I’m going to continue to have the same mindset.”
It is certainly working this season.
“Obviously, it helps to have success,” Lee said. “When something is working, there is no need to change it.”
Lee (21-2) held the Royals to one run and seven hits—six of them singles— in 7 1-3 innings, while striking out five and walking one. Lee is 4-0 against the Royals this year. Lee has 30.4 percent of the Indians’ 69 victories.
“Its disappointing we couldn’t give him his third loss,” said Royals first baseman Billy Butler, who went 1-for-4.
The left-hander, who shut out the Chicago White Sox in his previous start, had his 16-inning scoreless streak halted in the sixth when Albert Callaspo’s two-out single scored Jose Guillen. Lee hit Guillen with a pitch to start the inning.
“Lee comes right after you,” said Mark Teahen, who had two of the Royals’ hits. “He doesn’t walk too many guys. It doesn’t seem like he’s really overpowering.”
The Royals stranded 10 runners and Callaspo’s single was the Royals’ only hit in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“He had a couple of innings where he had to really make pitches to finish innings off and he did,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “That’s been very typical of Cliff this year. Again he had good stuff. He continues to do a good job locating his fastball and moving the baseball around. Kansas City put up some good at-bats, but Cliff was up to the challenge.”
Jensen Lewis got three outs to log his eighth save in nine opportunities.
Victor Martinez drove in all three Cleveland runs. Since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 29, he is 7-for-21 with six RBIs. Martinez had elbow surgery on June 13.
After Royals right-hander Zack Greinke (10-10) retired the first two batters of the game, the Indians stroked three consecutive singles for two runs. Shin-soo Choo, who went 2-for-3 and is hitting .500 in his 11-game hitting streak, began it with a single to center. He stopped at second on Jhonny Peralta’s single.
Martinez had an 11-pitch at-bat, fouling off five pitches with two strikes, before lacing a single to right center, scoring both Choo and Peralta.
“On 3-2, I don’t try to do too much, but just trying to put the barrel of the bat on the ball and see what happens,” Martinez said. “I was just doing the best I could there. Greinke is a pretty good pitcher. I was just fouling pitches and he was making good pitches and finally I got a good pitch to hit.”
Martinez and Choo doubled in the sixth off Greinke for the third Cleveland run.
Greinke left after six innings, allowing three runs and five hits, while striking out eight and walking two.
“That was a great at-bat by Martinez in the first,” Greinke said. “I threw him probably 11 of my best pitches and he had a hit that scored two. That won the game right there with Cliff Lee pitching.”
Lee’s 21 wins are the most in the majors since Dontrelle Willis won 22 in 2005 with Florida. That is the most wins by a Cleveland left-hander since Vean Gregg won a franchise record 23 in 1911. … The Indians are 14-6 in their past 20 games. …The Royals completed their homestand with a a 4-2 record, but have lost 21 of their past 29 games.