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Tigers-Indians Preview 2008-07-30

Tigers-Indians Preview 2008-07-30
The Detroit Tigers were supposed to have one of the most stacked lineups in recent memory heading into this season, and after a relatively quiet first half, they're leading the AL in runs since the All-Star break.

Now they'll see how they fare against one of baseball's best pitchers.

Cliff Lee will look to record his major league-leading 15th win on Wednesday when he and the Cleveland Indians continue their four-game home set with the Tigers and their resurgent offense.

Lee (14-2, 2.29 ERA) has had a storybook season just one year removed from being sent to the minors in late July after going 5-8 with a 6.38 ERA in 16 starts.

Cleveland (46-59) stuck him in the rotation from the start in 2008, and Lee has done more than just eat innings - he's statistically the best pitcher in baseball. No starter has a better ERA, and no one with at least 130 innings has allowed fewer walks (20) or homers (five).

He also has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio (6-to-1) of anyone in the majors.

Lee, the AL's All-Star starter, has looked just as good to start the second half as he did in the first. He pitched a complete game in a 6-2 win at Seattle on July 20, then struck out 10 over eight innings while allowing two runs in a 5-4 victory over Minnesota on Friday.

"He was outstanding again," manager Eric Wedge told the Indians' official Web site. "He was efficient, made his pitches and threw downhill. He's pitching with a great deal of confidence right now."

Lee needs six wins over the season's final two months to become Cleveland's first 20-game winner since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry went 21-13 in 1974.

The Tigers (54-52) have faced the Indians 10 times, but they've only seen Lee once. That was on June 9 in Detroit, and while it wasn't one of his season-defining performances - he pitched five innings, allowing two runs - Lee picked up his 10th victory in Cleveland's 8-2 win.

But Wednesday, he'll see a Tigers offense that's been firing on all cylinders since the All-Star break. Detroit has scored an AL-high 83 runs in the second half.

It took the Tigers a game to get their lineup going in Cleveland, where they lost 5-0 on Monday, but they pounded out 14 hits on Tuesday in an 8-5 win.

Gary Sheffield, Edgar Renteria and Brandon Inge - the bottom third of the order - drove in seven of Detroit's eight runs, each with two outs.

"We did a great job tonight," Renteria told the Tigers' official Web site. "We had two-out base hits, and that helped."

The offensive outburst came after manager Jim Leyland let his team skip batting practice and pregame workouts.

"It probably had nothing to do with winning, but we won so we'll do it again (Wednesday)," Leyland said. "We keep winning, we can come in at 6:15 (p.m.) every night for all I care."

Detroit will hand the ball to Nate Robertson (6-8, 5.63), who hasn't won since June 21. Robertson is 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA in his last six starts, though his last outing was better. He gave up three runs over six innings in a no-decision on Friday when the Tigers lost 6-5 to the Chicago White Sox.

Robertson hasn't faced the Indians this season, but he's 2-5 with a 4.74 ERA in 15 career starts.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: July 30, 2008

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