Hamilton, Lee honored as AL's best in June
League's hottest hitter joined by pitcher of four complete games
For the month of June, Cliff Lee dazzled in Mariners' blue.
His work earned him the American League's Pitcher of the Month Award on Tuesday, joining the Rangers' Josh Hamilton, who was named the league's Player of the Month.
Both were named to the AL All-Star roster on Sunday, and both have been hotter than hot lately in their respective roles.
Lee, whose name continues to be the subject of trade rumors, has only increased his value recently, posting a 4-1 record, to go with a 1.76 ERA in June. He struck out 36 batters, compared with just two walks. In fact, at one point, he completed a streak of 38 1/3 innings without giving up a free pass.
The left-hander's longevity continues to amaze as he collected four complete games in June, concluding with an impressive victory over New York at Yankee Stadium. Lee is the first pitcher to collect four complete games in one month since Roy Halladay did so in September 2003. His work against the Yankees wasn't surprising to manager Joe Girardi.
"[Lee] never beats himself," Girardi said. "He never walks people. He has the ability to strike you out, and he locates extremely well. He knows how to change speeds extremely well. He's got a little sink to it, he's got a little cut to it, he's got a curveball, a slider and a changeup. He just knows how to pitch, and his command is very, very good."
Lee's performance to this point has led his manager to suggest that he serve as the starting pitcher for the American League in Anaheim next week. Although there are other deserving candidates, Don Wakamatsu believes his co-ace to be one of the best in the game.
"I think from my standpoint, you look at what he's done with the walks, who he's pitched against, where he's pitched, the complete games, and I think he's as good as there is in baseball right now," Wakamatsu said. "I don't know if I can say it any better than that. He's as good as there is right now."
As good as Lee has been on the mound of late, he probably wouldn't relish the chance to face his co-honoree Hamilton, who sizzled his way through June. The left-handed-hitting Hamilton led all Major League batters with a .454 average. That, combined with 10 doubles, nine homers and a club-record 49 hits, secured the honor for Hamilton.
"Anybody can get hot at any time," Hamilton said. "All you can do is keep trying to do the things you do before the game starts, as far as practice and same routine. There's going to be days where you can't hit anything and days where they can't get you out.
Hamilton capped his monster month by officially hitting the longest home run in the history of Rangers Ballpark, in a June 27 game against the Astros. After consulting a physics professor, the club determined that Hamilton launched the ball 490 feet.
"This is cool, man. I'm glad the Rangers did this," Hamilton said. "I'm excited to hold the longest home run in the park now."
But it isn't just long balls that are drawing him attention throughout the league. Hamilton's big month at the plate, including a 23-game hitting streak, helped the Rangers maintain a 3 1/2 game lead over the Angels in the American League West entering play Tuesday.
"He's been doing everything," manager Ron Washington said. "He's running the bases, playing defense, getting big hits. Whichever way it has to be done ... he's been doing everything. I just hope he can keep it up for three more months."
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.