Indians Look to Keep Winning Streak Alive - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Indians Look to Keep Winning Streak Alive

ESPN - Cliff Lee finally appears ready to pitch for the Cleveland Indians in 2007.

The left-hander is scheduled to make his season debut and try to help the Indians close out an already successful homestand on a positive note Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Lee, who went 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 33 starts for Cleveland in 2006, is expected to come off the disabled list after straining an abdominal muscle early in spring training. He'll look to help the AL Central-leading Indians (16-8) win their fourth straight overall and wrap up a three-game sweep of Toronto (13-14).

Cleveland is 6-1 as it enters the finale of its eight-game homestand and has won nine of its last 10 games.

Lee, 28, won at least 14 games in each of the last three seasons and has pitched 200 or more innings in each of the last two. He is coming off a strong rehabilitation stint last week at Double-A Akron, where he struck out seven batters in five scoreless innings.

"(Lee) looked real good," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge told the Indians' official Web site. "He did a good job with his fastball and was real efficient."

Lee, who is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three career starts against Toronto, could be coming back at just the right time. Fellow starter Jake Westbrook left Cleveland's 7-6 11-inning win over Toronto on Wednesday with abdominal tightness and could be on his way to the disabled list.

With Toronto's infield shifted to the right to defend the left-handed hitting Travis Hafner, the Indians slugger knocked a double down the third-base line that drove in David Dellucci from first base with the winning run in the bottom of the 11th.

"He's a great hitter," said Toronto manager John Gibbons of Hafner, who is hitting .337 with six homers. "He got fooled on the pitch and still cued it down the line. He's one of the top five hitters in the game."

Jhonny Peralta went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer -- his sixth of the season and fourth in the last six games. The Indians shortstop has hit safely in seven straight games while batting .393 (11-for-28) with 13 RBIs.

"He's shown consistency in his entire game," Wedge said. "Physically, fundamentally and mentally -- it takes all three to give yourself a chance to succeed."

Frank Thomas and Vernon Wells each had three hits for the Blue Jays, while third baseman Troy Glaus added two doubles. Glaus, who came off the disabled list Saturday after recovering from a heel injury, is 6-for-12 with five runs scored and four RBIs in his last three games.

Toronto starter Dustin McGowan will make his 2007 debut on Thursday.

The right-hander was called up from Triple-A Syracuse after Gustavo Chacin was placed on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury. McGowan has appeared in 29 games -- 10 starts -- over the last two seasons with Toronto. He lost his only start against the Indians, on Aug. 26, 2005, when he gave up four runs and eight hits, including two homers, over five innings.

McGowan was 0-2 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts in the minors this season.
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