On paper it looked like a great pitching match up in the making. Going into the game Chien Ming Wang of the New York Yankees boasted a 6-0 record while Cliff Lee of the Indians was right behind him at 5-0 on the season. When it was all said and done with, it would be Lee who remained undefeated, hurling 7 shut out innings en route to Cleveland’s 3-0 win over the Bronx Bombers last night at Yankee Stadium. Lee is one of only three starting pitchers in the American League who has at least 6 wins and remains undefeated at this point in the season.
“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.”
The Indians starter was in control all night long, allowing only 6 hits while striking out 7 batters in the winning effort. He did not surrender a walk, and only allowed 1 runner to reach as far as third base during his outing. Not only was this Lee’s 6th win on the season, but it was his 6th consecutive decision for a win. He has pitched at least 6 innings in all of his starts and only allowed 4 runs over 44 2/3 innings, good for a .81 ERA which in the best among starting pitchers in MLB. Greg Swindell was the last Indians pitcher to win his first 6 starts back in 1988.
“Cliff is in the groove right now,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge.
Chien Ming Wang was the tough luck loser in this pitchers duel. The Yankees ace hurled 7 strong innings as well, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, but walked 3 in the losing effort. He would allow runs in the 1st, 4th and 5th innings before being removed after completing the 7th when his pitch count hit the 99 pitches. “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.”
Ben Francisco and Jhonny Peralta each had two hits for the Indians in the win. David Dellucci, Victor Martinez and Casey Blake had the Cleveland RBI’s.
Bobby Abreu had the Yankees only multi-hit game, going 2-4 on the night. The top of the Yankees line-up struggles with Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon going a combined 0-8 against Lee and the Cleveland bullpen.
Lee will go for his 7th win on Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays. All of his success may come as a surprise to many because a year ago he started the season on the DL, followed by some time in Triple-A in Buffalo and was then left off of the 2007 playoff roster.
All of that aside, Lee is looking like the real deal and the Indians will continue to ride his success for as long as he continues to pitch gem after gem.
Yankees/Indians Notes: - Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Phil Hughes are traveling to Tampa, FL today to continue rehabbing their injuries. No time table has been put on their returns. - The Indians will go for the sweep of the Yankees today at Yankee Stadium, a feat which has not occurred since April 1989.