Then again, the Baltimore Orioles have a way of making almost every starting pitcher look good.
Lee gave up one run before leaving in the eighth inning, Ryan Langerhans homered, and the Mariners cruised past the punchless Orioles 5-1 on Tuesday night in a matchup of last-place teams.
After giving up three players last December to get Lee from the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mariners figured it was only a matter of time before the 2008 Cy Young winner started to dominate the AL again.
Consider it done.
Lee (1-1) allowed eight hits, struck out two and walked none in 7 1/3 innings. It was his third start since coming off the disabled list with an abdominal strain.
"Since I've been back, I've felt good," he said. "I've given the team a chance each time I've taken the mound. That's really all you can do a starter. So far, it's gone pretty good."
Opposing pitchers have gone seven or more innings in 20 of Baltimore's 33 games this season. Add Lee to that expanding list.
"We have faced good pitchers, but no excuses," Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold said. "In the big leagues, you have to do a job and get hits."
Lee, however, is better than most.
"He didn't give in. You look at all great pitchers, and they don't give in," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. "His concentration and intensity is off the chart."
After Lee allowed two consecutive singles in the eighth, Brandon League got Miguel Tejada to hit into a double play. League also pitched the ninth to earn his first save for the Mariners, who have won two straight following an eight-game skid. Seattle is 4-0 against Baltimore and 9-19 against everyone else.
Facing the Orioles for the first time since 2005, Lee dominated a struggling offense that now has scored only two runs over the last 28 innings.
"He was outstanding from the get-go," Baltimore's Ty Wigginton said. "He was using both sides of the plate. He's got a Cy Young for a reason and he showed it tonight."
David Hernandez (0-5) gave up five runs, five hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. He has lost 11 straight decisions, the longest active streak in the majors and two short of the Orioles record held by Mike Boddicker (1987-88).
During Hernandez's seven starts this year, Baltimore has scored only six runs while he was in the game.
"I think he probably feels like he's got to go out there and throw a shutout, and you can't blame him for that," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.
Held hitless through three innings, the Orioles used a single by Nick Markakis and a double by Tejada to put runners in scoring position in the fourth. Lee subsequently struck out Wigginton and retired Matt Wieters on a grounder.
"That's when you've got to bear down," Lee said.
"Lee just amped his game up right there," Trembley said. "He got better."
Langerhans broke the scoreless duel by leading off the fifth with his first home run. The Mariners then loaded the bases with two outs, and Hernandez walked Chone Figgins on a 3-2 pitch before Franklin Gutierrez flied out to center.
Seattle chased Hernandez during a three-run sixth. After retiring the first two batters, Hernandez walked two and gave up an RBI single to Rob Johnson. Another run scored when Reimold fumbled the ball, and Michael Saunders greeted Jason Berken with a run-scoring single.
Baltimore got a run in the seventh when Wigginton doubled and scored on a single by Garrett Atkins.
- An intermittent rain fell for much of the night but never stopped play.
- Hernandez has issued 15 walks over the last 15 2/3 innings. Lee, in contrast, has not given up a walk this year.
- Lee is 4-0 in his career against Baltimore.
- Mariners LHP Erik Bedard (shoulder) was supposed to pitch a simulated game, but rain pushed it back for at least a day.
- Seattle OF Ichiro Suzuki was 2 for 4. He's a lifetime .390 hitter at Camden Yards.