December 22, 2014

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Efficient and effective: Indians’ Lee makes quick work of the Mariners on the way to his league-leading 13th win

SEATTLE — Cliff Lee left something behind in New York during a chaotic All-Star trip: command of his fastball.
So what? He still has a nasty curve and a few other outstanding off-speed pitches.
Lee followed up his All-Star start by allowing 11 hits in his second complete game of the season as Cleveland beat the Seattle Mariners 6-2 on Sunday.
“Surprise, surprise! It’s The General Cliff Lee!” fellow Indians All-Star Grady Sizemore announced in a mock Southern accent, “Dukes of Hazard” style.
Lee, a native of Arkansas who was just 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA while Cleveland won the AL Central last season, became the American League’s first 13-game winner.
He also became the first Indians pitcher to yield at least 11 hits in a complete-game win since Charles Nagy, who gave up 13 against Baltimore on June 17, 1992, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I was missing with my fastball quite a bit over the plate today,” Lee said. “Whatever. I’ll take that outing every time.”
The 29-year-old left-hander described his two-day All-Star blitz and then two scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium last week as “chaotic … but well worth it.”
“That was definitely an honor and a thrill to get to do that, but after Tuesday it was over,” he said. “Time to try to get back to where I was in the first half.”
Consider that task complete.
Lee (13-2) threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of his first 20 batters, and 41 of his first 50 pitches were strikes. Only one Mariner even saw ball three: Miguel Cairo with two outs in the seventh. Cairo then tripled home Jose Lopez to make it 6-2.
Four of the season-high 11 hits allowed by Lee (13-2) stayed in the infield, and six came over the final three innings as he tired. He struck out four and walked none in his fifth career complete game.
Lee’s 2.29 ERA is second in the AL to Oakland’s Justin Duchscherer (1.87).
Kelly Shoppach ended an 0-for-13 funk with a three-run homer off injured starter Carlos Silva in the fourth. The catcher tied a career high with four RBIs and helped last-place Cleveland to its second consecutive win following 10 straight road defeats — its longest such skid since 1991.
“He makes me look like I am calling the right pitch,” Shoppach said about Lee. “He’s a lot of fun to catch.”
Seattle flopped to 22 games below .500 at the bottom of the AL West and lost Silva to back tightness immediately after Shoppach’s home run. It was the latest ailment for a sick, injured and ineffective rotation, but manager Jim Riggleman said team doctors think Silva will make his next start next weekend in Toronto.
Silva allowed a double to Jhonny Peralta in the fourth and an infield single to Shin-Soo Choo before Shoppach’s drive just over the left-field scoreboard, his eighth home run. Mariners trainer Rick Griffin immediately joined Riggleman and all the infielders on the mound with Silva. The bullish, 250-plus-pound right-hander walked off the field alone following a brief consultation. He was replaced by Roy Corcoran.
Silva (4-12) signed a $48 million, four-year contract as a free agent from Minnesota last winter. As he trudged off the field having allowed four hits and four runs in three-plus innings, a frustrated fan in the lower deck yelled at him, “Another three years!”
Silva was frustrated, too. He has won just once in 17 starts since April 17 and gruffly blurted out “go ask the trainers” when asked if he will take his next turn. He said his back began hurting soon after the game began.
“I’m sorry guys,” he said. “This is a tough situation for me to be in.”
A double by Grady Sizemore, an RBI single by Casey Blake and another RBI single by Shoppach against Corcoran made it 6-1 in the fifth.
J.J. Putz pitched a perfect seventh hours after Seattle activated him from the 15-day disabled list. His final pitch was a darting, 96 mph splitter that Choo swung over — a hint that Putz might be fully recovered from the hyperextended elbow that had him on the DL since June 12.
“I felt great,” said Putz, who admitted he was nervous.
Riggleman said last year’s All-Star closer, who has struggled this season, will initially appear in non-save situations and then might share closer duties with Brandon Morrow.
Morrow, the fifth overall choice in the 2006 draft, had nine saves in 11 chances while Putz was out.

Notes

Lee has allowed two runs or fewer in 14 of his 19 starts.
Seattle lost for the eighth time in 11 games and is 13-13 since firing manager John McLaren on June 19.
Peralta extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

TONIGHT

WHO: Cleveland at L.A. Angels
TIME: 10:05
WHERE: Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Calif.)
PITCHERS: Byrd (3-10, 5.47 ERA) vs. Santana (11-3, 3.34)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM