Scott Lewis ... eight scoreless innings.
Scott Lewis proved the adage that good things are worth the wait. The left-hander allowed only three hits over eight scoreless innings in his MLB debut to help the Indians defeat the Orioles in Baltimore, 7-1, Wednesday night. Kelly Shoppach had three hits including two solo homers and Asdrubal Cabrera had three RBI. But the story was Lewis, who has spent so much time recuperating from injuries.
Lewis had Tommy John (elbow ligament replacement) surgery while at Ohio State in 2003. That didn't keep the Indians from drafting him in the third round in 2004. But more injuries kept him from getting to the big leagues before now.
He pitched only 5 1-3 innings at Mahoning Valley shortly after signing in 2004 before being shut down. The Indians were worried he had come back too soon from the surgery, making five starts at OSU barely a year after having the operation.
Lewis pitched only 15 1-3 innings at Mahoning Valley in 2005 before being sidelined by biceps tendinitis.
He finally worked on a regular basis in 2006 at Class A Kinston, allowing only 84 hits in 115 2-3 innings while striking out 123 and compiling the best ERA of any starting pitcher in all of minor league ball -- a sparkling 1.48. He won the Most Spectacular Pitcher Award that goes to the minor-leaguer with the best ERA.
Last season, he moved up to Double-A Akron and went 7-8 with a 3.68 ERA. More importantly, he worked 134 2-3 innings.
He came to spring training camp this year eager to make an impression, but was shut down early after straining a back muscle. He stayed at extended spring training in Florida until June -- then quickly made up for lost time.
He was 8-4 with a 2.53 ERA combined for Akron and Triple-A Buffalo before being called up by Cleveland on Sunday.
"I always stayed positive," Lewis told reporters after striking out three without a walk.
"You can't get caught up in whether you are going to be hurt all of your career. I always had a vision in the back of my head and it came true. It was better than I had hoped.
"I never expected to do this well. I had hoped to get deep into the game and maybe only give up a few (runs). I stayed pretty calm."
The 24-year-old came within three outs of becoming the first Cleveland pitcher since Luis Tiant in 1964 to throw a shutout in his major league debut. Tiant did it in Yankee Stadium.
"I can't be disappointed about anything today," Lewis said. "I only pitched eight innings once before and that was a complete game loss."
Last week, Lewis was pitching for Akron in the Eastern League playoffs against Baltimore's Double-A team, the Bowie BaySox. After the Aeros eliminated Bowie on Saturday night, Lewis got the call to join the Indians.
Shoppach (.271) went 3-for-4 and scored three runs. His third multi-homer game of the season gave him 19 roundtrippers total.
Jhonny Peralta (.274) put the Indians ahead, 1-0, with a first-inning sacrifice fly. Cabrera (.244) had a two-run double and Grady Sizemore (.264) another sacrifice fly to make it 4-0 in the fourth.
Shoppach connected in the fifth and seventh innings and Cabrera added yet another sacrifice fly to make it 7-0.
Jamey Carroll (.269) and Franklin Gutierrez (.239) each had two hits and scored once for the Indians.
Masahide Kobayashi (4.28 ERA) replaced Lewis and gave up three hits including Aubrey Huff's RBI double in the ninth inning.