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News » Tigers-Indians Preview 2009-05-08

Tigers-Indians Preview 2009-05-08

Tigers-Indians Preview 2009-05-08
It's been nearly a decade since the AL had a repeat Cy Young Award winner. It doesn't look like that will change this season.

Reigning Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee looks to bounce back from another tough defeat as he takes the ball for the Cleveland Indians in the opener of a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.

On the heels of Lee's outstanding 2008, the Indians (11-18) were expected to contend for the AL Central crown this year. So far, both Lee (1-4, 3.92 ERA) and the Indians have been falling short of expectations.

Lee already has lost more games this season than he did last year, when he went 22-3. Cleveland, meanwhile, has the AL's worst record.

On Sunday, Lee gave up three runs and a season-high 12 hits in seven innings in a 3-1 loss to Detroit (14-13) as the Indians fell to just 1-5 in the left-hander's starts. Cleveland was 24-7 with Lee on the mound a year ago.

Although he's struggled to get in the win column and is unlikely to become the AL's first repeat Cy Young Award winner since Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000, Lee hasn't been pitching that badly lately.

He's yielded just five runs in 23 innings over his last three starts, but has been backed by just one run of support in those games. Excluding his win over the New York Yankees on April 16, Lee has received two total runs of support in 33 innings in his other five games.

"That's out of my control," Lee told the Indians' official Web site. "It's something I don't worry much about. It's definitely nice to pitch with a lead. But when it doesn't happen, it's out of my control."

The Indians are coming off a disappointing 13-3 loss to Boston on Thursday, their fourth defeat in 14 games.

The Red Sox tied a modern major league record with 12 runs in an inning before making an out, turning a one-run sixth-inning deficit into a 13-2 lead.

Detroit is coming off its own discouraging loss.

In Thursday's 6-0 defeat to the Chicago White Sox, the Tigers were held without a baserunner against Mark Buehrle until Placido Polanco's one-out double in the seventh.

Detroit, which was shut out for the first time this season, managed only three hits one game after pounding out 11 in Tuesday's 9-0 win over Minnesota.

Miguel Cabrera was hitless in four at-bats Thursday after going 10 for 19 with three home runs and eight RBIs in his first five games this month. He had three hits against Lee last weekend.

The Tigers counter with Justin Verlander (2-2, 5.66), who looks to win his third straight start.

After yielding 24 runs in 21 innings over his first four starts, Verlander has given up one run while striking out 20 in 14 innings in winning his last two.

The right-hander allowed one run and two hits with a season-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings to beat Cleveland on Sunday.

"This is certainly the best I've felt in a while," he said.

After winning Rookie of the Year in 2006 and going 18-6 in 2007, Verlander regressed by going 11-17 last season. He seems to have regained some dominance.

"I think he answered some questions and answered some critics," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after Sunday's performance.

Verlander now tries to earn his first victory in Cleveland since July 26, 2006. He's posted a 11.10 ERA in losing his last six starts at Progressive Field.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 8, 2009

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