Today wasn’t a very good day for the Indians. Not only did they lose today’s game to the Orioles by a score of 7-2, they may have lost Justin Masterson, their number one starting pitcher, for a start or two, or perhaps for the remainder of the season. Early reports are that Masterson is suffering from a soreness in the left side of his ribcage.
Masterson started today’s game by walking the first batter he faced, but he retired the next three hitters in order. After his second pitch to the first batter in the second inning, Matt Wieters, Indians manager Terry Francona and head trainer Lonnie Soloff went to the mound to check on Masterson, who was in obvious discomfort. Masterson stayed in the game, and gave up a single to Wieters. Before throwing the second pitch to the next batter, Nick Markakis, Masterson hesitated, and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera signaled for Francona to come back to the mound. He did, and this time he took Masterson out of the game.
Masterson was replaced by Preston Guilmet, who was added to the club when the roster expanded on September 1. Guilmet did not have a good outing, giving up a single, two doubles, and a walk before being removed himself after the second inning was over. Were it not for a heads-up observation on the part of Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who alertly noticed that Orioles baserunner Markakis failed to touch second base on his way to third following one of the Orioles doubles, the O’s would have plated four runs in the second. Markakis was called out on appeal, but when the inning finally ended, the Orioles had a 3-0 lead.
And the way the Indians flailed away at the plate today, three runs were all the Orioles needed to win the game. The Orioles recorded 11 strikeouts, 10 of which were cases of the Indians batters striking out swinging. If you spent part of your Labor Day playing backyard wiffle ball with your nephew Timmy and his friends, be assured that Timmy and his crew took better hacks at the plate than the Indians batters did. On several of those strikeouts, strike one or strike two came when an Indians hitter stood there and took a pitch thrown right down the middle of the strike zone.
Only three Indians got hits in the game. Michael Brantley went 3 for 4 with a double. Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall each had solo homers, and Chisenhall also doubled. The Indians were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
In addition to striking out a lot, the Indians notched only one base on balls, to Asdrubal Cabrera, who also struck out three times. Jason Giambi, who doesn’t really deserve to be called a designated hitter, struck out twice, and his batting average fell to .183. He has hit only two home runs, and only four doubles, since the first week of June. Giambi may be a Good Clubhouse Guy, which seems to be very important to Francona, but at this point in his career, he is assuredly a Bad Baseball Player. If I were managing the team, he’d never start another game in the DH slot.
Presumably the Indians will have more to report on Masterson’s condition in the next day or two. At this point, I don’t see any benefit in putting him on the disabled list, seeing as how the rosters have been expanded. Putting him on the DL would mean losing him until Sept. 17 at the earliest. Let’s hope he cam make his next scheduled start, or at worst will need to have some extra time to heal. Losing him for the season would mean losing him for five starts, and that would just about be the death knell for the Indians’ chances of making it to the postseason.
Today’s loss hurt the Tribe’s meager playoff chances. The Tigers won, so the Indians are now 8.5 games out of first. At this point, winning the AL Central would require a miracle. The Indians now stand four games behind the leaders for the two AL wild card slots, too.
The Indians face the Orioles again tomorrow at 7:05 PM.