Cliff Lee and Aaron Cook were masterful in a matchup of staff aces.
Lee finally resembled his Cy Young Award form while Cook showed crafty command Sunday in the Colorado Rockies’ 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians.
Lee had struggled this spring, allowing 14 earned runs in 6 2-3 innings coming in. But he found his rhythm against the Rockies, giving up two runs in five innings.
“It’s the kind of progression I wanted to have,” said Lee, who went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA last season. “Things kind of came together pretty good today. I feel like I’m right where I need to be.”
The same can be said of Cook, who had another stellar outing.
Relying heavily on his sinker, Cook pitched five economical innings, giving up just one run and five hits while throwing only 59 pitches.
His 1.89 ERA is among the lowest in the Cactus League.
“I feel like I’m in a great place,” said Cook, who made his first All-Star team last season. “When you are in a good place, it makes you feel a little bit more confident going into the season.”
Cook had some traffic on the bases, but always managed to get out of the jams. In the third, he got Ryan Garko to roll into a 6-4-3 double play to end a potential threat.
“I’ve become really comfortable pitching with guys on base,” he said. “I think it’s just maturing, realizing I don’t have to go out there and strike everybody out. I can get a groundball and get out of it just as fast. I just have to trust my stuff to get out of it.”
Christian Colonel drove in two runs for the Rockies while Jeff Baker went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Ian Stewart had a go-ahead single in the eighth.
George Lombard had a two-run homer and a double for the Indians.
The Rockies were missing starters Garrett Aktins (groin), Brad Hawpe (hamstring) and Troy Tulowitzki (lower back) as they recover from nagging injuries.
Atkins has been out for nearly two weeks, but resumed light running Sunday. With time winding down before opening day, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle is hoping to see some on-field activity from Atkins real soon.
“I do believe we’ve got enough time” to get him ready, Hurdle said. “If we can get him on the field this week sometime, we still have enough time.”
Hawpe and Tulowitzki took the afternoon off just as a precaution.
Hawpe hasn’t played since coming out with a cramp in his left hamstring on Friday.
“Feeling good,” Hawpe said. “Just got to take another day or so.”
Tulowitzki’s back tightened up during the bus ride to Surprise on Saturday and he was a late scratch from the starting lineup.
He didn’t want to take any chances Sunday, opting to ride the stationary bike instead.
“That’s something that just crept up on me,” Tulowitzki said of his back. “We’re just trying to be smart.”
The Indians played at Hi Corbett Field for the first time since March 31, 1992. Cleveland trained at the facility from 1947-92 before moving to Winter Haven, Fla., for 16 years. They’re now in Goodyear, Ariz. … Hurdle is hoping to keep 1B Todd Helton in a game for nine innings before spring training ends. Helton is returning from back surgery and has yet to play more than seven innings. “We’d like to get it done, he’d like to get it done,” Hurdle said.
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