Saturday was just one of those games that reminds you why baseball is so much fun and, the last three nights notwithstanding, those have been rare since the break for the Indians.
Justin Masterson and Yu Darvish squared off in a thrilling pitcher’s duel en route to the Indians 13th shutout of the year. The big difference between the two pitchers – besides Michael Bourn’s leadoff, game-winning home run, of course – was efficiency. Darvish had more strikeouts (11-8), but also more walks (4-1) and those two factors drove his pitch count up and he was forced to leave after 6 innings with 123 pitches. Masterson, meanwhile, after a 23-pitch first inning, settled into a dominant rhythm, ending his night after 113 pitches and 7 2/3 innings. (And you could make a case that he could have kept going but with Adrian Beltre up and a man on first, Tito opted to remove Masterson one batter too soon rather than too late. Can’t blame him, but the way Masterson was going I wouldn’t have objected if Francona left him in there).
Masterson was in trouble only once all night when the Rangers managed to load the bases with two out in the fifth inning. He was fortunate catcher Geovany Soto was the runner at second on a hard hit single to right by Engel Beltre, but Masterson took advantage of the fact that Soto couldn’t score and got Nelson Cruz to ground out to Asdrubal Cabrera to end the threat. Other than that, it was smooth sailing for Masterson, and a real No. 1 starter type of performance for the team ace as the Indians try to keep pace with the Tigers, who were pounding the Phillies Saturday night.
If team streak is starting another hot run, now is the perfect time as it might cajole the front office to think about a small trade (probably nothing big, but something that will boost spirits in the clubhouse and at least mollify the fanbase a bit.)
Chris Perez picked up the save (14) and looked as good as I could remember seeing him in a long time, with a 1-2-3 ninth, attacking the Rangers hitters and making it look easy.
- Fun with microscopically small sample size: I’ll say it … Bourn owns Yu Darvish – a homer and two walks in his first ever game against the Cy Young candidate. Bring it on. The rest of the lineup, not so much.
- Crazy stat of the day: Elvis Andrus, of all people, has the longest hitting streak ever against the Indians at 36 straight games. He’s a nice player, but it was a shock to me. I still expect Miguel Cabrera to own that record someday the way he hits against … well everyone, but especially the Indians.
- I know Lonnie Chisenhall has been better since his recall last month, but I still feel like it’s cause to celebrate every time he draws a walk in a game. His free pass Saturday gives him double digits for the year (10) and six since his stint at Triple A.
- Ubaldo and the Tribe go for the three-game sweep Sunday.