M's Take on Tribe
The Cleveland Indians haven't been able to muster much offense in dropping their last three games.
When Cliff Lee has been on the mound, they haven't needed much.
Lee, who has been nearly untouchable in his first four starts, will look to go 5-0 on Wednesday when the Indians try to avoid their first four-game losing streak of the season against the visiting Seattle Mariners.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Cleveland -166 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 71% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland –166 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Cleveland (12-15) came into 2008 figuring it would have a strong pitching staff anchored by 2007 AL Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia and 19-game winner Fausto Carmona.
But as both of those starters have experienced some early struggles, it's been Lee (4-0, 0.28 ERA) who has emerged as the team's best pitcher. Lee has the lowest ERA in baseball - he's allowed one earned run in 31 2-3 innings - a remarkable turnaround for a pitcher who was 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA last season, part of which he spent in the minors.
Opponents are hitting a major-league low .109 against Lee, who has yielded just one homer and two walks this season.
He's been impressive in all four starts, but his most recent was his best. Lee pitched his first career shutout on Thursday, limiting Kansas City to three hits while striking out nine in Cleveland's 2-0 win.
"I'm just going to continue to try to pitch the way I have been and ride it out until it stops," Lee said.
Lee will be in charge of stopping a three-game slide - the Indians' fourth this season - and he's already done that twice. Cleveland's bats have gone quiet during the team's latest skid, producing four runs in the last three games.
The Indians were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday in a 7-2 loss in their series opener against Seattle (13-14).
"It wasn't a very good night,'' said manager Eric Wedge. "We didn't have a whole lot going on. We can't be afraid, have to stick our nose in there with two outs, and we're not even close to doing that.''
Travis Hafner's struggles have been a season-long problem. The burly designated hitter is batting just .210 this season, and he's 0-for-10 during Cleveland's three-game losing streak. He had a shoulder issue that kept him out of a game at Minnesota earlier this month, but insists he's perfectly healthy.
"Physically, I feel great," Hafner told the team's official Web site. "This is as good as I've felt in my career. I'm pretty positive it's only a matter of time."
The Mariners have won two of three after a three-game losing streak, and they've remained competitive lately with some impressive pitching. Seattle has only allowed 3.3 runs per game in its last 12, but is only 6-6 in that span.
Jarrod Washburn (1-3, 4.03) will take the ball on Wednesday, and he hasn't received much run support when he's been on the mound. In his three losses, the Mariners have scored only four runs while he's been in the game.
Washburn allowed two runs in five innings in his latest outing but didn't figure in the decision in Seattle's 8-7 loss to Baltimore on Thursday. The Mariners were ahead 5-2 when Washburn departed.
"There aren't many times that you give this bullpen a three-run lead and they're going to blow it," Washburn told Seattle's official Web site. "Today was just one of those days."
Washburn is 6-2 with a 3.31 ERA in nine career starts in Cleveland, and has allowed one run or fewer in five of those.
Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki is a lifetime .360 (9-for-25) hitter against Lee.