Trying to Avoid The Sweep

After just one start this season, Cleveland left-hander Cliff Lee has begun to put his 2007 struggles behind him. The Indians now hope Lee's next outing will help them erase their recent troubles against the Oakland Athletics.

Lee will try to help the Indians avoid being swept by the Athletics - winners of five straight - when the teams conclude their three-game series on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from have made Cleveland -136 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 76% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland -136 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.

Lee (1-0, 0.00 ERA) went 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA in 20 appearances, including 16 starts, last season - his worst in the majors. He was hampered by a strained right abdominal muscle last April, and following a rough July, was sent to Triple-A Buffalo before returning to the bullpen in September.

In his 2008 debut, however, Lee resumed his starting role, limiting Oakland to one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-1 win last Sunday. He retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced to help the Indians (4-7) avoid a three-game sweep.

Starting against Oakland (8-4) has been a relatively easy task for Lee, who is 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA in eight career matchups.

Lee looks to improve on the 3-3 record and 5.80 ERA he had in 10 home games last season. He's had success there against the Athletics, going 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in five appearances.

"With Cliff, all the hard work he's done over the winter, his approach this spring and fighting to make this ballclub, it's just great to see him come out there and get off to a good start," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He did a great job controlling the ballgame. He established his fastball early and commanded it throughout."

Command was something Cleveland pitchers lacked in Saturday's 7-3 loss, issuing 10 walks for the first time since they had 11 in a loss at Oakland on May 4, 2006. The Indians have dropped three straight games, and are 4-7 for the first time since 2005.

The A's took advantage of starter Fausto Carmona, who issued a career-high eight walks in 3 1-3 innings, one night after beating reigning Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia.

"To face those two guys and beat them, it's a good feeling," said A's shortstop Bobby Crosby, who hit a three-run homer in a four-run seventh inning. "We're playing well. I'm happy with where we are."

Oakland, which has matched its start from 2004, looks to sweep a series in Cleveland for the first time since taking a four-game set there Aug. 19-22, 2002.

The Athletics will also try to secure their first six-game winning streak since Aug. 11-16, 2006 behind Chad Gaudin (0-0, 11.25).

The right-hander began the year on the disabled list after undergoing offseason hip surgery, but was activated Tuesday to start in place of Rich Harden (right shoulder strain).

Gaudin yielded six runs and eight hits in four innings, but did not receive a decision in Oakland's 9-8 victory at Toronto. He is 2-1 with a 5.47 ERA in nine appearances - three starts - against the Indians.

Gaudin went 5-7 with a 4.84 ERA in 18 road starts last season, including a 5-2 loss at Progressive Field on June 25.

The Athletics could be without outfielder Ryan Sweeney on Sunday after he left Saturday's game with a strained right quadriceps muscle. Sweeney is hitting .348 (8-for-23) with three RBIs in 11 games this season.

by: Dave Michaels - – Email Us

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