Indian ‘Cliff’ steep with 20th hill win
Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 3:45 pm
By: By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cliff Lee remembers his only encounter with Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry being brief. The two pitchers met at this season’s All-Star game in Yankee Stadium.
“I think I shook his hand,” Lee said. “I guess you could call that meeting him. I didn’t really get to talk to him.”
On Monday, Lee was in Perry’s company again.
Exactly one year after being brought back from the minor leagues, Lee pitched a five-hitter for his second career shutout and his 20th win to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 5-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Lee (20-2) is the first Indians pitcher to reach 20 wins since Perry, known for throwing a spitball, went 21-13 in 1974.
Following the game, Cleveland’s players locked the clubhouse doors and celebrated Lee’s milestone, which put a resounding stamp on his turnaround season.
“We gave him a little toast,” catcher Kelly Shoppach said. “He deserved it.”
With a chance to also join Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Bob Lemon as Cleveland’s 20-game winners, Lee shut down the hard-hitting, Central-leading White Sox. He gave up two singles to open the first before retiring 21 straight and finishing his fourth complete game.
“That’s the best I’ve seen him throw against us in some time,” said Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen, whose club dropped into a tie for first with Minnesota. “He’s a 20-game winner for a reason. We got to him early and had an opportunity. Then he shut us down, just dominated us.”
After he got Carlos Quentin to ground into a game-ending double play, Lee punched his fist into his glove and hugged Shoppach as fireworks boomed above Progressive Field. And then, as he has done 19 other times this season, Lee got in line to exchange handshakes with his teammates.
First baseman Ryan Garko flipped the ball to Lee, and he headed t.o the dugout as a video tribute from Perry and Feller was shown on the stadium scoreboard.
“It’s nice to get this behind me and not have to answer questions about matching Gaylord Perry,” Lee said in a typically stoic tone. “I’m glad I got it over with on the first try. It’s a good feeling, especially not giving up any runs.”
Elsewhere, the New York Yankees outlasted Detroit 13-9, Boston beat Baltimore 7-4, and Seattle downed Texas 12-6, as Adrian Beltre hit for the cycle and the Mariners won their fourth in a row.
Ineffective for the first fourth months of 2007, Lee was sent back to the minors last July, a startling downfall for a pitcher who had won 46 games over the previous three years. In his final start before the demotion, Lee was booed off the field and sarcastically tipped his cap at fans who were sick of seeing him.
After the initial shock of being back in the minors wore off, Lee reset his sights.
“I never lost confidence,” Lee said. “I never got down on myself or questioned my abilities. I never once doubted what I could do.”
Since the first day of spring training in ’08, he has been in a groove.
Yankees 13, Tigers 9
At Detroit, Alex Rodriguez had four RBI as the Yankees built an 11-2 lead and then had to hang on as Detroit got homers from Gary Sheffield, Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge.
Justin Verlander (10-15) lasted a career-low 12/3 innings and gave up eight runs — five earned — and seven hits with two walks.
Brian Bruney (2-0) was credited with the win for pitching 12/3 scoreless innings. New York’s Sidney Ponson started and gave up seven runs — six earned — and nine hits over three innings.
Red Sox 7, Orioles 4
At Boston, Dustin Pedroia’s two-run single capped a four-run sixth inning and Paul Byrd (10-11) pitched seven efficient innings in his fourth start for the Red Sox, who pulled five games behind idle Tampa.
Garrett Olson (8-7) gave up six runs and six hits in 52/3 innings for the Orioles, who lost for the ninth time in 10 games.
Mariners 12, Rangers 6
At Arlington, Texas, Adrian Beltre hit for the cycle and had five hits to help Seattle win its fourth straight.
Beltre, who had the third five-hit game of his career, became the fourth Mariners player to hit for the cycle with an RBI triple off Josh Rupe in the eighth. Beltre homered in the second, had an RBI single in the fourth and singled in the sixth.
Sean Green (4-4) pitched three scoreless innings for the win.