Justin Masterson, the Indians’ offense is sorry. Not sorry as in pathetic and inept as they’ve been for stretches in the past two months, especially with him on the mound. No, I mean sorry as in apologetic. At least, that’s what it seemed like in last night’s game, as the Tribe finally gave Masterson the run support he so desperately needed and deserved. The Tribe put up more than enough O for Masterson, who shut down the Cincinnati offense for eight innings in the 8-2 victory.
With the win, Masterson was victorious for the first time since April 26th. In those 11 starts in between wins, Justin gave up more four or more earned runs just three times. However, the Tribe was shut out four times with Masterson on the hill and only gave him 8 total runs in that stretch. If anyone could handle that adversity the right way, though, it’s Masterson.
The Indians actually (gasp) got power from the middle of their order in this one. I would say it started with Grady Sizemore, but in truth, it really starts with Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo had given up 21 homers coming into this game, and it was more of the same for the struggling Red. Grady was the first to draw blood, sending a fastball to the third row of the right-center field seats in the second. Grady added a two-out RBI double in his next at-bat, and hopefully that will get the Tribe centerfielder on track, because there’s been a whole lot not to like coming from #24 lately.
Did anyone remember the last time the Indians had hit back-to-back jacks? I’ll admit that I didn’t off the top of my head, but Tom Hamilton pointed out to me on my drive home yesterday that it was Matt LaPorta and Jack Hannahan against KC’s Luke Hochevar way back in that same April 26th game that Masterson won. In a wacky third inning, Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana changed that. After a Justin Masterson single up the middle (perhaps we wouldn’t be so bad as a NL team after all) and two force outs, Asdrubal sent a no-doubt two-run shot into the right field seats of Great American Ballpark. Two pitches later, it was Santana’s turn, crushing a breaking pitch into the Tribe pen in right. That was more than enough for Justin Masterson, but the Indians weren’t done yet.
Cleveland finally chased Arroyo from the game in the fifth inning with a pair of two-out RBI hits from Santana and Sizemore. Travis Buck, who’s been hot lately, tacked two more onto Arroyo’s stat line just for good measure off reliever Sam LeCure. Buck tweaked his hamstring on the play rounding first and is day-to-day. But just like that, the Tribe had a snowman on the scoreboard.
Back to Masterson, he was really on his game once again, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out five. The one mistake he made that hurt him in the outing was his fourth-inning fastball to Phillips that he sent into the seats. Phillips added another solo blast off Chad Durbin in the ninth for his 1,000th career hit. Eric Wedge is long gone, but I’m sure Phillips’s motivation for hitting against Cleveland remains. The other trouble Masterson faced was in the first, but Lou Marson’s cannon throwing arm and a double play allowed him to face the minimum in that inning despite giving up two hits.
With the Ohio Cup clinched, the Indians take on the Reds this afternoon on national television with Fausto Carmona facing Homer Bailey.