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Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Cliff Lee: 'I've got to get back on track'

By Richard Durrett


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Cliff Lee was clearly mad at himself after Tuesday's 10-9 loss. But more than too many pitches high in the strike zone or struggles to get shut down innings, it was a bad throw to second base in the third inning that had Lee upset.

"I feel like if I make a throw to second base and turn two, we win the game," Lee said. "I made a bad play on that ball. I rushed the throw when I realized the guy was running and threw it into center field. If I make a solid throw to second base right there, that's two outs and we end up winning the game."

With one on and one out in the third, Lee got Mike Aviles to hit a ball back to the mound. He turned and made a hard throw to second, but it was wide, sending the ball bounding into center field. That kept the inning alive. And the Royals ended up allowing three more singles and the Royals got three runs to take a 4-2 lead. It happened right after the Rangers had gotten the lead back for Lee.

Tuesday was the latest in a string of five rough outings for Lee. He's now 0-3 with an 8.28 ERA in his last five outings for the Rangers. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings on Tuesday, his shortest outing of the season. The last time Lee didn't get through at least five innings was September 20, 2009. (And he went four innings in that one, but gave up just five hits and one run against Atlanta).

Lee has pitched fewer than six innings in three of his last five starts and up until that point hadn't pitch fewer than six innings all year. He's given up 44 hits in 29 2/3 innings and has allowed six homers (and he's normally not a guy that give up a lot of homers).

Lee will get an additional day of rest before his next outing and the Rangers hope that helps him regroup. He doesn't look tired in terms of velocity, but his pitches are up and he's not hitting his spots like he normally does.

"I've struggled before, but you've got to continue to focus on your routine and preparation and stay positive and continue to push forward," Lee said. "I'm not going to sit here and whine and pout about it or make excuses. I've got to figure out a way to get back on track and the only way I know to do that is through preparation and my routine. That's what I'm going to continue to focus on and expect to be successful."

The last time Lee gave up four or more earned runs in five consecutive starts was May 6-29, 2006 (shout out to ESPN Stats & Information). The only other time he's done that was Aug. 28-Sept. 23, 2004. Lee has never allowed four or more earned runs in six straight starts.

Lee said he wasn't sure if he needed the extra day of rest before his next outing, but he's going to try to take advantage of it.

"I don't feel like I have to have a day of rest, but that's what's happening," Lee said. "Hopefully it works."

He said he'll just take that day off and won't be throwing an additional bullpen on the side.

Other reaction/notes:

* C Matt Treanor was upset with himself for not getting to Alexi Ogando's fastball in the dirt that was a wild pitch to score the winning run. It was a tough play and Treanor acknowledged that, but didn't let himself off the hook. "My job is to make those plays," Treanor said. "I got to a similar pitch right before that. I wanted to get to that one. I don't like being involved in the play that loses the game."

* Vladimir Guerrero hit his 25th homer on Tuesday, giving him 25 or more homers in 12 of the last 13 seasons. He's tied for fourth among active players with 12 or more seasons of 25 or more homers (Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Delgado, Jim Thome are the others that have done it).

* Michael Young had his 20th career game of four or more hits (he's had four games with five hits). It was his third four-hit game against the Royals. He also hit his 20th homer and moves into fifth all-time in franchise history with 157, passing Alex Rodriguez.

* Manager Ron Washington reiterated that he was not worried about Lee and expects the veteran to figure things out. "He's done this before and he'll be fine," Washington said. "If we knew what it was, we'd get it fixed. But he'll correct some things and make adjustments."

* Josh Hamilton continued to impress MVP voters. Even with the bad knee, he was 2-for-4 with two RBI and his hitting .435 over his last 12 games.