Cliff Lee will return to Cleveland and face his former club for the first time in almost four years when the Philadelphia Phillies aim for a split of a quick two-game series with the hosting Indians.
Keeping the Indians in the ballpark would be the first step for Lee.
Lee began his career with Cleveland in 2002 and won the American League Cy Young Award with the franchise in '08, when he went 22-3 with a 2.54 earned run average in 31 starts. However, the Indians dealt him to the Phillies prior to the trade deadline the following season, ending his seven-plus year tenure with the club.
The left-hander went 83-48 with a 4.01 ERA in 182 career starts with the Indians, including 178 starts.
"It's gonna be interesting. It's gonna be neat," Lee told his club's website about returning to Cleveland. "But I don't try to get too caught up in it. I'm just gonna try to go out there and focus on each pitch, each hitter and put up as many zeros as I can."
Lee is in the third season of his second stint with the Phillies, having been dealt to the Seattle Mariners prior to the start of the 2010 season before signing with Philadelphia as a free agent following the campaign. He is 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA through five starts this season, but winless since winning his first two outings.
Lee, 34, did not factor into the decision of a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, but was charged with three runs, a season-high 10 hits and just his fifth walk of the season while striking out seven. The Pirates rallied for a late win, scoring three times off the bullpen in the eighth inning.
The Indians did not need to rally in Tuesday's opener, clubbing seven home runs in a 14-2 rout. Five of those were two-run homers.
Ryan Raburn became the first Indians player since Travis Hafner in 2004 to have consecutive multi-homer games. Raburn hit his first two homers of the season in Monday's win over the Kansas City Royals and added a pair of two-out homers last night.
"Sometimes you're gonna have nights like these and other nights we're gonna be on the other end. We just got to go out there, have fun, play hard and hopefully that night falls our way," Raburn said.
Cleveland has plated 33 runs and allowed just five over a three-game winning streak. Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds set the tone in the first inning versus the Phillies with two-run homers and Zach McAllister was able to cruise through seven innings. He did yield solo homers to Delmon Young and Chase Utley, but only allowed three other hits in the win.
After three strong starts, Roy Halladay was pounded for eight runs and nine hits over 3 2/3 innings. He served up three of Cleveland's seven homers.
"I don't know how you stop them. Everything they hit was hard," said Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, whose club was coming off a three-game sweep of the New York Mets.
A bright spot for the Phillies was Young, who went 2-for-3 and homered in his first at-bat in his season debut after missing the first 26 games while recovering from right ankle surgery. Ryan Howard went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
In need of a spot starter, the Indians will turn to 22-year-old Trevor Bauer.
Bauer will make his second start of the season and the sixth of his career, though it will be his first in the majors since control problems plagued him on April 6 in Tampa. He took a 6-0 loss and walked seven batters over five innings, charged with two hits and three runs versus the Rays.
The right-hander was then sent to Triple-A Columbus, where he has gone 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts, walking six and striking out 24 in 18 innings.
The third overall pick of the 2011 draft by Arizona, Bauer went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in four starts last season with the Diamondbacks.
Cleveland's Nick Swisher did not play in Tuesday's opener due to a sore left shoulder and with an off day looming on Thursday he could be held out of the lineup again tonight.
Philadelphia swept the Indians the last time these teams met back in 2010.