Once again, Justin Masterson saved the day.
Okay, so that statement may be a bit melodramatic. It is still only April and the Indians were only mired in a three game losing streak; not a seven or eight game slump. Still, it seems as if every time the Indians started to falter during this young season, Justin Masterson stepped on the mound and turned things around. Masterson is now 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 22 strikeouts. Four of his five wins came the day after a loss; three of the wins came after a two games or more losing streak. Last night, Masterson stopped a 3 game losing streak as the Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 9-4 in Cleveland.
He had a bit of help last night in the form of five home runs, one each from Shin-Soo Choo, Matt LaPorta, and Grady Sizemore, and two from Jack Hannahan. When Hannahan went yard for the second time in that game, I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. In my opinion, Hannahan epitomizes the Indians squad this year. You don’t expect much from him, and you generally view him as a placeholder until Lonnie Chisenhall makes his Major League debut. The same could be said about the 2011 Indians – you don’t expect much from them, and typically view the season as a bridge to a future contending team. Like the Indians’ unexpected first place start, fans have seen a solid defensive performance from Hannahan and a surprisingly pleasant offensive performance. I know that I never predicted Hannahan would be tied with Travis Hafner and Asdrubal Cabrera for the team lead in home runs (4), although to be fair, he entered last night’s game with half of that total. Besides, any player that uses an Irish jig as his at-bat music is pretty cool in my book!
Some other thoughts about last night’s game: I’m a little concerned about the bullpen. I knew that it would be tough for people like Tony Sipp and Chris Perez to maintain a 0.00 ERA during a long season, but the pair appear a bit shaky recently. Major props to Vinnie Pestano, who came on with the bases loaded and nobody out in the eighth inning and retired the side without a run scoring.
What was with the weather yesterday? Everyone kept predicting epic thunderstorms with high winds and hail, and it ended up being a beautiful evening – I found it a little disappointing that the stadium was so empty. I joke that I like an empty ballpark because it gives me more room to stretch out, but I hope people start enjoying this team in person. (As long as this is possible from a financial standpoint obviously; there are probably many in the Cleveland area who cannot afford to do so at this point in time). Hopefully today’s weather predictions are equally inaccurate and tonight’s game goes off without a hitch.