Marlins-Indians Preview

The Associated PressMay 20, 2012

Cleveland's Derek Lowe does not look like a guy pitching in the twilight of his career.

The sinkerballer has a chance to become the majors' first seven-game winner Sunday as the Indians wrap up their weekend series against the visiting Miami Marlins.

With his 39th birthday looming June 1, Lowe (6-1, 2.05 ERA) does not appear ready to hang up his glove. He's 4-0 with a 1.30 ERA in five starts since giving up four runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 4-1 loss at Seattle on April 18.

The highlight of Lowe's winning streak came Tuesday in Minnesota, when he tossed a six-hitter in Cleveland's 5-0 victory. It was his first complete game since 2008, and first shutout since 2005.

"It's been a really gratifying start," Lowe said. "Coming into this season there were so many questions about, 'Are you done? Are you going to retire? I worked my tail off, not just to prove people wrong but to get myself back to where I knew I should be.''

Lowe, who went 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA last season with Atlanta, became the first pitcher to throw a shutout without a strikeout since Baltimore's Scott Erickson did it against Kansas City on April 28, 2002.

"I don't have what you'd call a strikeout pitch," Lowe joked to the Indians' official website. "All my pitches are hittable."

Though Lowe is certainly pleased with his early success, he continues to keep things in perspective.

"No one ever remembers what you do in April or May," he said. "Everybody remembers what you do from Aug. 15 on. So you just try to stay afloat until then. The last six weeks is when the fun begins."

Lowe, 7-5 with a 4.93 ERA in 18 career starts against the Marlins, hopes to help Cleveland (23-17) take two of three from Miami after Jeanmar Gomez and three relievers combined to allow three hits in Saturday's 2-0 win. Indians starters have worked six or more innings in 20 of the last 23 games.

Asdrubal Cabrera homered and Shin-Soo Choo added two hits as the AL Central-leading Indians won for the fifth time in six games. Choo is batting .385 (10 for 26) in six games since being moved to the leadoff spot. He's hitting .415 in his last 12 interleague games at Progressive Field.

Facing the Indians for the first time Sunday, probable Miami starter Josh Johnson (1-3, 5.36) allowed two runs in seven innings for the second straight start in Tuesday's 6-2 victory over Pittsburgh - his first win since April 19, 2011. That drought included 12 starts sandwiched around a season-ending shoulder injury.

"Hopefully with this game he gets back on track," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He's our ace. Hopefully he starts pitching like he is.''

The right-hander is 6-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 13 career interleague starts.

Hanley Ramirez had one of three hits Saturday for the Marlins (21-19), who dropped to 13-5 in May. The Miami third baseman is batting .367 in his last 13 games versus AL opponents.

Miami could again be without the speedy Emilio Bonifacio, who had his consecutive game streak end at 112 on Saturday after straining his left thumb in Friday's 3-2 victory.