CLEVELAND -- Between the unassisted triple play turned by Asdrubal Cabrera and the diving, run-saving snag by Franklin Gutierrez, the Indians did everything they could to back up Cliff Lee on Monday night. Except hit. They seemed to forget about that part. So it was that Lee's nine scoreless innings and his bid to become the first Indians pitcher in 86 years to win his first seven starts in a season went to waste in Game 2 of a doubleheader with the Blue Jays.
Rather than ride Lee to a twin bill win and four-game sweep of the Jays, the Indians instead saw reliever Rafael Betancourt serve up the go-ahead runs in the 10th inning of a 3-0 loss at Progressive Field. "It's out of my control," Lee said with a shrug. "I did what I was supposed to do. I put up zeroes." As did Lee's supporting cast, which was stymied by Jays starter Shaun Marcum and his eight innings of two-hit ball. That had manager Eric Wedge irate. "Our approach was as poor if not the poorest I've seen here all year," Wedge said. "No excuses for it. No excuses. We were giving away at-bats all night long." No, that wasn't some promotional giveaway for the 16,045 in attendance. This was an offense that had just begun showing signs of life after a season-long funk taking a big step backward. The Indians had the bases loaded with two outs in the second, only to see Andy Marte fly out to center. They squandered Victor Martinez's leadoff double in the fourth, when Gutierrez, Travis Hafner and Kelly Shoppach went down in succession. And they didn't have another baserunner until the 10th, when Hafner hit a ground-rule double and ended up stranded at third. "We didn't do anything offensively," Wedge said. "Nothing. I don't want to take anything away from the opposing pitcher. [Marcum's] done a great job this year. But I still put it on us." Once again in this outing, Lee was putting on a show. He lowered his ERA to an infinitesimal, Major League-best 0.67 ERA, and he did it by pitching his way out of trouble time and again, with the help of a defensive effort that was nothing short of spectacular. The biggest play, of course, came in the fifth, when Cabrera turned just the 14th unassisted triple play in Major League history and the first by an Indians player since Bill Wambsganss recorded one in Game 5 of the 1920 World Series. But Lee had other help, as well. In the ninth inning, he issued a leadoff walk to Shannon Stewart, who moved to second on a sac bunt. Alex Rios sent a scorching liner down the first-base line, but Martinez made a leaping snare of the ball to prevent a run. Later that inning, with two out and two on, Kevin Mench drove a fly ball to the gap that Gutierrez snagged with a sensational diving catch to rob Mench of an extra-base RBI hit. This all helped Lee extend his scoreless innings streak to 16. He's only allowed three runs in his last 39 innings of work over five starts. "I felt good and strong at the end," said Lee, who threw 117 pitches. "I felt as strong at the end as I did in the first inning." As for the defense, it was merely picking up where it left off in the 3-0 victory in Game 1. "We made multiple plays defensively in both games," Wedge said. But the Indians didn't hit much in either. They continued to go down quietly when B.J. Ryan quickly retired the side in the ninth, so it was up to Betancourt to preserve the scoreless tie in the 10th. Betancourt couldn't do it. He quickly surrendered consecutive singles to Matt Stairs and Lyle Overbay and intentionally walked Brad Wilkerson with one out. Stewart's deep fly to center was an easy sacrifice to make it 1-0, and Aaron Hill's line-drive single to center brought home another pair. Up until that point, the Indians had held the Jays to 31 consecutive scoreless innings, just two shy of the Jays' all-time record streak for futility, set in May 1981. "It says a lot about our pitching staff," said Lee, who would have been the first Indians pitcher to win his first seven starts in a season since Duster Mails did it in 1920. Little, however, can be said about an offense that continues to shoot itself in the foot. "You've got to bring it every night," Wedge said. "They didn't bring it to the plate tonight."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.