THE BOSTON RED SOX entered the first weekend of May with baseball's best record and the game's hottest pitcher, too.
Former top prospect Clay Buchholz is 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA. He won American League Pitcher of the Month honors earlier this week.
He also was accused of cheating.
After throwing six shutout innings Wednesday in Toronto, Buchholz was accused of doctoring pitches by two former big-league pitchers-turned-Toronto broadcasters: Jack Morris and Dirk Hayhurst.
Both said Buchholz was applying a foreign substance to the ball, which is illegal.
Two days later, Hayhurst took the conversation further and included a Phillies pitcher in his accusations in a piece he wrote for Canada's Sportsnet website. He insinuated that Cliff Lee regularly scuffs pitches.
The Daily News approached Lee about the accusation before batting practice yesterday at Citizens Bank Park.
"Who is Dirk Hayhurst?" Lee said in response.
Hayhurst pitched in 25 major leagues games with San Diego and Toronto in 2008 and 2009. But the 32-year-old is more famous for writing three popular baseball books in his post-playing career.
He took his writing to Sportsnet.ca yesterday.
"Pitchers break the law, folks," Hayhurst wrote. "Some do it in the accepted 'it's only 5 miles over the limit, officer,' way. Some have big enough names that they can get away with it even when it's plain for all to see - Cliff Lee's hat, anyone?
"Some do it recklessly and are just begging to get called out on it . . . "
Those words were relayed to Lee yesterday.
"That's nothing," Lee said of tugging the bill of his cap. "That's a completely inaccurate statement. I'll go get you my hat right now. I've been wearing the same hat for 3 years. It's sweat and rosin."
Sweat, of course, builds up on hats through wear and tear. A rosin bag, of course, is behind the mound for every game for the legal usage by any pitcher (or other player, for that matter) during the course of the game.
Although scuffing pitches was a more popular topic in the 1970s and '80s - Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry and Phil Niekro come to mind, as well as former Phillie Kevin Gross - Phillies manager Charlie Manuel doesn't necessarily think it's a dead issue in 2013.
Speaking in generalities, and not of any pitchers in particular, Manuel said he believes scuffing baseballs still goes on throughout the game.
"I've been hearing about it ever since I've been in baseball, for 50 years," Manuel said. "I think it's always been there . . . That's been in the game forever.
"Actually I think they do a pretty good job of controlling that, as far as looking for stuff. You can say anything you want to - you got to catch the guy."