Cliff Lee's win-loss record has suffered from a lack of lineup and bullpen support all season and that continued Thursday night, as he got stuck with a no-decision despite tossing seven innings of two-run ball against the Pirates. Lee has thrown a Quality Start in 12 of his last 13 outings, with a 2.20 ERA and 69/21 K/BB ratio during that time, yet has just a 4-4 record to show for it.
He's just 4-6 overall despite a 2.92 ERA after going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA on the way to the AL Cy Young last year. With the Indians falling to 30-44 and a dozen games back in the AL Central rumors are starting to swirl that Lee may be on the trading block. General manager Mark Shapiro is believed to be holding out for an elite pitching prospect, but Lee's poor record likely hurts his perceived value.
While the misleading nature of individual win-loss records displays itself perfectly in Lee, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* John Smoltz made his Red Sox debut Thursday night, allowing four first-inning runs before holding the Nationals to one run over his final four frames. Losing his first start in more than a year clearly isn't good news, but Smoltz retired the final eight hitters he faced and struck out the side in his last inning. It wasn't the debut that Boston fans were hoping for, but he looked good enough to be an asset.
* Eric Byrnes is expected to miss 4-8 weeks with a fractured left hand after Scott Feldman plunked him with a pitch Thursday. Byrnes is hitting .216/.260/.361 this season after batting .209/.272/.369 last year, so his absence obviously isn't a big blow to the Diamondbacks and basically just guarantees that Gerardo Parra will continue to play regularly once Chris Young returns from a groin injury.
* Josh Hamilton has begun swinging a bat following June 9 surgery on a partially torn abdominal muscle and general manager Jon Daniels revealed Thursday that "there's a reasonable chance" he'll be able to return from the disabled list before the All-Star break. Hamilton has indicated that he'll probably skip the Home Run Derby, but he's also third in the fan voting for a starting spot in the outfield.
* Despite general manager Neal Huntington announcing earlier this week that he would remain in the rotation for at least one more start, Ian Snell was demoted to the minors Thursday and the move apparently came at his request. Snell is 9-20 with a 5.40 ERA in 46 starts since the beginning of last year, but Pittsburgh has turned down trade offers and resisted what may be a smart move to the bullpen.
AL Quick Hits: Frank Thomas said Thursday that he's close to retiring, but is "still in shape, ready to go if anything happens" … Kenji Johjima (toe) is set to return from the disabled list Friday and will resume starting … Armando Galarraga gave up four runs in six innings Thursday, but won for the first time since April … If his bullpen session goes well Friday, Roy Halladay (groin) should be cleared to start Monday … Evan Longoria sat out Thursday's game, but his hamstring injury isn't considered serious … Ichiro Suzuki went 4-for-5 with a homer Thursday and now has a career-high .901 OPS … Denard Span returned from the DL with a triple and three walks Thursday … Yuniesky Betancourt's hamstring injury sent him to the shelf Thursday, which is addition by subtraction for the Mariners … Asdrubal Cabrera (shoulder) may come off the DL as soon as Friday … Aaron Poreda picked up his first career win Thursday by pitching a scoreless 13th inning.
NL Quick Hits: Brandon Webb will be examined by three more specialists before making a decision on his shoulder injury … Homer Bailey will start Saturday and should get a chance to stick in the rotation if he can throw strikes for once … Not willing to wait for Milton Bradley's next injury, manager Lou Piniella has benched him for a couple games … Antonio Bastardo exited Thursday's start in the fourth inning with a strained shoulder … After losing three of his past four starts, Johan Santana tossed seven innings of two-run ball Thursday for win No. 9 … Kenshin Kawakami isn't expected to miss a start despite being hit on the neck by a liner Wednesday … Jake Fox went 3-for-4 with his first homer Thursday … Hitting just .214 overall and .125 since being dropped to sixth in the lineup, Jimmy Rollins has been benched for two games … Reed Johnson (back) went on the disabled list Thursday, so the Cubs replaced him with Ryan Freel … Geovany Soto tested positive for marijuana during the WBC, but called it "an isolated incident."