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News » Red Sox-Indians Preview 2009-04-27

Red Sox-Indians Preview 2009-04-27

Red Sox-Indians Preview 2009-04-27
Even during his stellar Cy Young season last year, Cliff Lee couldn't beat the Boston Red Sox.

Right now, it seems that no one can.

Coming off an unbeaten homestand, the Red Sox will take their 10-game winning streak on the road, where they'll start a nine-game trip by facing Lee and the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.

Boston was reeling after a 2-6 start when it began its current run, salvaging an 8-2 win in the finale of the team's road trip in Oakland on April 15.

It followed with home sweeps of Baltimore, Minnesota and the New York Yankees, finishing the 9-0 homestand with a dramatic weekend sweep of its arch-rival to extend the club's longest winning streak since a 12-game run in June 2006.

"I don't want to get carried away with what happened in this homestand," Boston manager Terry Francona said, "but it was a good homestand."

After come-from-behind wins Friday and Saturday, the Red Sox (12-6) won 4-1 on Sunday night - a victory highlighted by Jacoby Ellsbury's steal of home and Justin Masterson's second win starting in place of the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka.

But it has been a robust offense that has carried the Red Sox of late. The team is batting .322 and averaging eight runs during the winning streak, with major league batting leader Kevin Youkilis leading the way. Youkilis is hitting .439, while Ellsbury leads the majors in steals (10) and Mike Lowell leads the AL in RBIs (22).

Boston's bats could be in for a challenge Monday. Lee's career ERA was 4.64 entering last season, but he went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA and won the AL Cy Young award.

One of the losses came in his lone matchup with the Red Sox, as he allowed five runs in seven innings of a 5-4 loss on Sept. 23. The Red Sox won five of six against the Indians last season, one year after beating Cleveland in seven games in the AL Championship Series.

Tim Wakefield (2-1, 2.45 ERA) was the winner against Lee, and with Josh Beckett struggling and Matsuzaka on the disabled list, Wakefield has stepped up lately for the Red Sox.

The 42-year-old knuckleballer has earned back-to-back complete-game victories in his last two starts. After flirting with a no-hitter in the win at Oakland that started the winning streak, he picked up a rain-shortened complete game with seven sharp innings in a 10-1 win over Minnesota during Wednesday's doubleheader.

Lee has also been strong. The dominant campaign may have looked like a fluke after Lee (1-3, 5.25) struggled in his first two starts this year, but he has rebounded with a pair of solid outings, allowing three runs in 14 innings in his last two appearances.

He lost 2-0 to Kansas City on Wednesday despite eight strong innings.

"The results are better," Lee said. "I think I've done a good job locating my pitches and mixing speeds. I think I got a little fastball happy in my first two starts, but I've made some adjustments. I've had good results, but that's what I expect of myself and what is expected of me."

The Indians (7-12) are also trying to improve after losing their first five games, but they've remained inconsistent due to a shaky offense.

Cleveland scored two total runs while dropping the first two games of its weekend series against Minnesota. It avoided a sweep with Sunday's 4-2 win, as Ryan Garko's two-run single provided the winning margin, but manager Eric Wedge still wasn't happy with his team.

"Garko had the big hit for us, but we still have to do better than what we saw today," Wedge said. "We scored four runs, but we had the opportunity to do a lot more than that."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 27, 2009

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