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08/21/08 4:45 PM ET
Lee notches No. 18 as Indians sweep
Sizemore drives in career-high seven vs. Royals in finale
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The Romans had seven deities. The Buddhists had seven treasures. The Greeks had the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Indians will have to settle for seven strong innings from their Cy Young Award candidate, seven RBIs from their All-Star center fielder and seven wins in a 10-game homestand. Behind a typically strong outing from Cliff Lee and a career day from Grady Sizemore, the Indians got that seventh win -- as well as a series sweep -- with a 10-3 victory over the Royals on Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field. As Lee himself pointed out, the offensive outpouring, spurred by Sizemore's first seven-RBI performance, wasn't entirely necessary, but it was nonetheless welcomed. "If you score 10 runs on the day I pitch," Lee said, "I should be able to give the team a chance to win." That's both a statement of the obvious and an expression of the confidence that has carried Lee to an incredible 18-2 season. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Lee is just the fifth pitcher in history to start out 18-2, joining Ron Guidry (1978), Greg Maddux (1995), Randy Johnson (1995) and Roger Clemens (2001). "He's on a roll," Sizemore said of Lee. "It's exciting to play behind a guy who's on a roll like he is." Sizemore proved as much when he stepped up against Royals starter Zack Greinke with the bases loaded and two out in the second inning and ripped a three-run triple to the gap in left-center field to give Lee a 3-0 lead. Shin-Soo Choo's two-run homer in the third made it 5-0. That lead seemed sufficient for the left-hander, who sports a 2.43 ERA. And it looked like an embarrassment of riches when Lee took a no-hitter into the fifth. As it turned out, though, Lee would need that early run support, for he found a rare patch of trouble in the fifth. After Jason Smith reached on a Jamey Carroll fielding error at third, Lee gave up four consecutive hits -- John Buck's single, Mark Teahen's two-run double, Tony Pena's RBI single and Mike Aviles' single. With his lead now whittled down to 5-3, two men on and one out, Lee was in danger of falling apart. But anybody who's watched Lee pitch this season can probably guess what happened next. He got Esteban German to ground into an inning-ending double play and was never seriously threatened again. "After they get a hit, it's a done deal," Lee said. "You've got to attack the next guy." Lee did a fine job of that all afternoon. The Indians turned four double plays behind him and a season-high five overall. But what was really impressive was the way Lee generally kept the Royals in check, even on a day in which he didn't feel he had his best stuff. He allowed just those three runs, two of which were earned, on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. "He's been very consistent with the way he carries himself," manager Eric Wedge said of Lee. "I really believe what he needs to do is work hard to stay in his routine. If he does that, the rest will take care of itself." Sizemore helped take care of the rest of this ballgame. He provided a little breathing room for Lee in the sixth, when he slapped an RBI single off reliever Robinson Tejada to the opposite field in left to make it 6-3. After Jhonny Peralta punched the ball over the left-field wall for a solo shot off Joel Peralta in the seventh, Sizemore put an exclamation point on the victory in the eighth. With two on and Josh Newman on the mound, he ripped a three-run homer to right to cap his big day. "I saw the ball well," Sizemore said. "I felt good." His accomplishment, of course, was a little more exciting than his quotes. Sizemore became the second Indians player -- joining former teammate Casey Blake (June 2 at Texas) -- and the sixth player in the Majors to have a seven-RBI game this year. Considering Sizemore was batting a woeful .185 over his past 17 games coming in, this was a fine way to break out of a funk. Lee, on the other hand, has yet to find a funk this year. With this win, he crept closer to becoming the Tribe's first 20-game winner since Gaylord Perry in 1974. "I feel I should give the team a chance to win every time I'm out there," Lee said. "If I don't, I'm upset with myself." He had nothing to be upset about in this game of lucky sevens.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.