Lewis remains perfect, beating Twins
Tribe rookie starter runs scoreless streak to 14 frames
CLEVELAND -- Somewhere among the bus trips, the bad meals and the small crowds, a guy can get lost in the maze of the Minor Leagues.Scott Lewis' numbers didn't always suffer. In fact, they were quite good in an '08 season that was delayed two months by the unenviable chore of rehabbing an injury at extended spring camp. It's just that when you're itching for that first shot in the Major Leagues and you're instead facing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, your concentration can wane from time to time. Now that he's finally up in the bigs, Lewis, who worked another six scoreless innings Monday night to guide the Indians toward a 3-1 win over the Twins at Progressive Field, seems intent on making the most of it. "I think I have upped my focus a little bit," he said. "The season gets long in the Minor Leagues, and I've been there four years. I hate to admit it, but there are some games where you're not pitching in front of as many people and there's just not as much excitement." If Lewis was looking for excitement, he's found it here. Lewis has yet to allow a run in 14 Major League innings. That's the longest such stretch by a Tribe pitcher to start a career since 1969 -- as far back as Elias Sports Bureau's records go. And it's a stretch that is sure to earn him another start with the Tribe before this season ends. The possibility still exists that Anthony Reyes will return from the elbow soreness that opened the door to Lewis' opportunity. But the Indians, who had once contemplated going with a six-man rotation in September, will still find a way to give the ball to Lewis at least once more, manager Eric Wedge confirmed. "It's safe to say he's going to get another start," Wedge said, "regardless of what happens [with Reyes]." That's what's called a no-brainer. Lewis' eight shutout innings in his debut last week in Camden Yards were a study in how to calm the inevitable nerves that come with the situation. And this start against a club fighting for a playoff spot and in front of the home crowd was even more nerve-wracking for the Washington Court House, Ohio, resident and Ohio State alum. "I left probably 15 or 18 tickets," Lewis said, "then I saw a couple groups of people that I knew and people from my high school that I recognized and parents and former teammates that I played with at Ohio State. ... I knew there would be a lot of people watching me, especially with expectations after the last outing." Yet as was the case with that last outing, Lewis never buckled under the pressure of the big league spotlight. And this time, he even had to deal with multiple baserunners in scoring position. The Twins had the leadoff man in scoring position twice against Lewis -- in the third and fifth innings -- and he retired the next three batters in order each time. "They made him work," Wedge said. "But he didn't get rattled. He just made pitches." Lewis' pitches are anything but flashy, but they are effective. He gets by with command of a fastball that tops out in the upper 80s, the separation of speeds between his fastball and changeup and the occasional curve. "My curveball was there again, and I'm pretty pleased about that," Lewis said. "I kind of lost it in a few starts in the Minors there. My slider was a little inconsistent at times, but, for the most part, my fastball and changeup command were right where I want them to be." The Indians had the Twins right where they wanted them after Kelly Shoppach hit a solo homer off Kevin Slowey in the fourth and Shin-Soo Choo cranked out a two-run shot in the fifth. Those blasts atoned for what was otherwise a stagnant effort at the plate. Jhonny Peralta's attempt to score on an Andy Marte single in the second resulted in Peralta getting nabbed at the plate on a perfect throw from center fielder Carlos Gomez. In the eighth, the Indians loaded the bases against Cleveland native Matt Guerrier, only to see reliever Dennys Reyes come in to get Travis Hafner to ground into a weak fielder's choice at first and Shoppach to ground into an inning-ending double play. Then again, who needs runs when you've got Lewis on the mound? And though Lewis' pitch count caught up with him after six innings, the Tribe bullpen had little trouble nailing down his second win. Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez worked a scoreless seventh and eighth, respectively, and Jensen Lewis closed it out for his ninth straight save, despite serving up a solo shot to Joe Mauer. "At least I'm giving up homers to All-Stars," Jensen Lewis joked. But Scott Lewis isn't giving up anything to anybody, and it's earned him an extended look in a surprising September. "If I get another start, that's awesome," he said. "I'm trying to make the most of this opportunity."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.