Lee, Blake disable Twins
Lefty allows just two hits over eight innings in shutout win
MINNEAPOLIS -- Cliff Lee allowed just two hits in eight innings of work en route to his third win of the season after shutting down the Twins in a 4-0 victory Friday at the Metrodome.
The win improved Cleveland to 7-10 this season, while Minnesota fell to 7-10.
Lee said that once again he felt like he had command of all his pitches.
"I felt good the whole time. I was working ahead in the count and throwing strikes," he said.
After throwing 109 pitches through eight innings of work, Lee was lifted for Rafael Perez, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning. The left-handed Lee was nearly perfect through his first three innings of work, allowing no hits and just one baserunner -- Delmon Young -- by way of a walk. Lee lowered his ERA to 0.40 this season and was in complete control of the Twins, not allowing anyone past second base. He also struck out eight hitters while walking just one.
The current three-game stretch Lee is on is the best of his career, he said.
"It's definitely the best start of the season I've had, but there is still a long way to go."
Cleveland manager Eric Wedge praised Lee after another near flawless performance.
"He's been about as consistent as you can ask a starting pitcher to be and he was just as good today," said Wedge, who pointed to Lee's approach as a big part of his success. "His routine is solid, his mind-set is also solid -- where it needs to stay."
Cleveland's offense was led by former Twins third baseman Casey Blake, who collected two hits -- including his first home run of the season -- and three RBIs. Blake always seems to be at his best when he is facing his old teammates, especially at the park he used to play in.
"I think it is just being somewhat comfortable here," Blake said. "I am comfortable with the guys I am playing against, I know a lot of them. That might have something to do with it."
Coming into the game, Blake was hitting just .152 (7-for-46) with seven RBIs in 14 games. He lifted his season batting average to .180 and now has 10 RBIs.
Aside from Blake, the Tribe's offense was less than overwhelming in collecting just five hits, but the four runs were three more than Lee needed.
The Indians combined two hits with two walks off Twins starter Francisco Liriano to take a 2-0 lead in the second inning. The big hit came from Blake, who drove in two runs with a single after Cleveland loaded the bases.
"[Those were] big at-bats. He stepped up for us," Wedge said of Blake.
Three innings later, the Indians notched another run after a Victor Martinez RBI single to left field scored Kelly Shoppach to make the score 3-0. Shoppach beat out an infield single to reach base.
Blake was at it again in the seventh inning when he launched his first homer of the year, a solo shot to left field off reliever Juan Rincon to make it 4-0.
The Indians third baseman hopes Friday is a sign that his hitting is starting to come around.
"I feel like I am. It's been tough early, but I am starting to gain some confidence," Blake said.
Joe Kieser is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.