|© MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Kernels' Lee goes the distance again07/19/2013 11:37 PM ET
By Brandon Simes / MiLB.com
Brett Lee's bullpen session was so bad Friday night that he wouldn't let his teammates stand in the batter's box as he warmed up -- for their own safety.
That all changed once he took the mound as the Twins prospect tied a career high 10 strikeouts and pitched a six-hitter for his second straight complete game as Class A Cedar Rapids beat Lake County, 4-1, at Classic Park.
"In the bullpen tonight, [my curveball] was really bad. I don't know if it was the mound, but I couldn't dig in," Lee said. "Hitters wanted to get in and I was like, 'No, it's a bad idea.'"
The curveball turned out to be Lee's best pitch, a week after he limited Dayton to five hits as he went the distance in a 7-1 victory.
"Right now, [my arm is] OK," Lee said. "Tomorrow, I think I'll be saying a different story."
The 22-year-old left-hander hadn't thrown more than seven innings as a pro until June 29, when he allowed an unearned run on four hits and fanned nine over eight frames against Peoria. He went 5 2/3 innings in his next start before the back-to-back complete games.
Lee credited a more aggressive mentality for his recent success.
"You can't aim, you've got to just go after batters," he said. "I've shown myself that that really works, so I try not to steer away from that."
Lee (7-4) finished the first half of the season at 4-4 with a 4.45 ERA over 58 2/3 innings. Since the All-Star break, the Twins' 2011 10th-round pick is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 30 strikeouts and four walks in 36 2/3 innings.
"[Pitching coach Gary Lucas] has been working with me and [Twins Minor League pitching coordinator Eric Rasmussen] came in and they really helped me out with focusing more and staying aggressive with every single pitch," Lee said. "It's helped me a lot. I don't steer the ball in there anymore, I go after it with everything I've got."
On Friday, Lee got support from Twins No. 18 prospect Adam Brett Walker, who slugged his league-leading 19th and 20th homers. The 21-year-old right fielder, who homered twice on Monday, has seven homers, 16 RBIs and a 1.294 OPS in his last 10 games.
"You can't really challenge [Walker] with a fastball. If he gets a hold of it, it's going to be in the seats somewhere," Lee said. "Tonight, when he hit the first [home run], the momentum was just unreal, it kept everything going forward. It helped me stay aggressive since it got us up with the lead. He is unreal at the plate, really fun to watch."
Max Kepler -- Minnesota's eighth-ranked prospect -- went 3-for-4 and leadoff man Jonathan Murphy added two singles for the Kernels.