In a battle of two overachieving teams the Indians came out on top, taking three of four from the Baltimore Orioles and doing so in dominant fashion. The Tribe scored 32 runs in the four-game series, outscoring the O’s by 14.
The story on Sunday was Justin Masterson, who took a no-hitter into the 5th inning and surrendered just two runs in seven innings of work. The performance lowered Masterson’s ERA to an impressive 1.93 since June 1st, which ranks 4th in the AL in that span.
I’ll admit I was worried about Masterson early on. Through the first two months of the season he showed absolutely no command of the strike zone, but something clicked for him about a month ago. He’s walked just nine batters over his last seven starts, after walking 34 through his first 10. I’ve sifted through the stats in search of something which has changed, but nothing jumps out. For whatever reason, he’s just found the strike zone again. Let’s hope it stays that way.
A few other other notes…
- Taking three of four from the Orioles was encouraging, but the real test begins on Monday. The Tribe heads home to take on the Angels for three games before hosting the Rays in four straight before the All-Star break.
- Asdrubal Cabrera went 9-21 against the O’s, collecting at least two hits in all four games. He’s the first Indian with a multiple hits in every game of a four-game series since Grady Sizemore against the Royals in September, 2008.
- Jason Kipnis picked up his 20th stolen base of the season on Sunday, becoming just the 8th second basemen in franchise history to reach the mark and the first since Robbie Alomar in 2001.
- Unfortunately Kipnis wasn’t selected to the All-Star Game. Robinson Cano earned the starting nod (very well deserved) while Ron Washington selected his own guy, Ian Kinsler, as the backup second basemen. Kipnis and Kinsler have nearly identical box score stats, so it’s not surprising that Washington, a very old school manager, went with the veteran. But Kipnis holds the edge in nearly every meaningful cumulative sabrmetric stat. According to Baseball-Reference, Kinsler ranks 6th among AL second basemen in WAR, while Kipnis trails only Cano. And according to Baseball Prospectus’ VORP statistic, Kipnis also holds a significant advantage.
- Chris Perez turned 27 on Sunday. His 83 saves through the age of 26 are far and away the most in franchise history. Steve Olin is a distant second with 43.