The Indians and the A’s played two games with 5-1 scores over the past two days.
On Saturday, the Tribe came out on top, thanks to the hitting of second baseman Jason Kipnis (4 for 5 including a triple, 3 RBI), a decent performance by starting pitcher Jeanmar Gomez (one run, earned, over 5⅓ innings, giving up four hits and one walk), and 3⅔ innings of scoreless relief from the Bullpen Mafia, including a three-pitch, one-out save from Chris Perez. Shortstop Jason Donald also had a big game, going 2 for 4 and scoring two runs, including one in the sixth inning thanks to two pieces of heads-up baserunning, first by stealing second on a play which should have seen him being picked off first base, and then, after Kipnis’ single, by slapping his hand on home plate to avoid a tag attempt by A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki. All in all, a very satisfying game.
Today, though, it was the A’s who prevailed, beating an Indians team which seemed tired and listless almost from the start. The game began well, with the Tribe taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, thanks to back-to-back doubles from right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and DH Travis Hafner. That was about it for the Tribe offense on the day, though; they got only two more hits, and no more runs, over the next eight innings. Justin Masterson didn’t pitch well at all, giving up four runs, all earned, over five innings, allowing six hits and a cringe-inducing six walks. He was removed after five innings, having thrown 111 pitches. All in all, a very disappointing game.
I know it’s still early in the season, but I’m a little concerned about Masterson. After his brilliant Opening Day performance, in which he allowed only one run, two hits, and one walk over eight innings (only to get a no-decision after Chris Perez imploded in the ninth), Masterson has had three straight ineffective starts, allowing 15 runs, all of them earned, over 13⅔ innings. He hasn’t pitched into the sixth inning since Opening Day. I’m not an expert on such things, but he doesn’t seem to be hurt. Let’s hope he can turn things around, and soon.
Despite today’s loss, though, Tribe fans can’t help but be more than happy with the way the nine-game road trip turned out. After a three-game sweep in Kansas City, the Indians won two of three in Seattle and in Oakland. Before the road trip, I’m sure that Manny Acta would have been happy to see the Indians win five of the nine games. Anyone who would have put down an Andrew Jackson on the chance that they’d win seven of nine would have been given some decent odds against that, and would therefore be treating themselves to a fine steak dinner this evening.
After a day off tomorrow, the Indians begin a six-game home stand on Tuesday, with three-game series against the Royals and the Angels. Susan and Stephanie will be there on Tuesday night, and it’s rumored that they intend to live-blog the game. You won’t want to miss that!
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/VernMorrison