Despite a valiant comeback attempt in the ninth inning, a rough start for Justin Masterson and a pair of questionable calls by third base umpire Mike DiMuro were too much to overcome as the Indians fell to the Yankees, 6-4. The Tribe’s fourth straight loss and it dropped their record to 37-36 and knocked them back to 1.5 games behind Chicago in the AL Central.
The Bombers got to Justin Masterson quickly. With runners at the corners and two outs, Chris Stewart hit a liner to third base that deflected off Jack Hannahan‘s glove; it was a controversial call as Hannahan felt the ball was foul, but the ruling stood as Nick Swisher scored the first run of the game. Derek Jeter then singled to load the bases for Curtis Granderson, whose two-run single made it 3-0 Yankees.
Masterson was able to settle down until the fifth, when Granderson walked and steadily moved around the bases before coming home on Mark Teixeira‘s sacrifice fly. Tony Sipp relieved Masterson in the seventh and ceded a solo home run to Alex Rodriguez, while Nick Hagadone allowed a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Meanwhile, Phil Hughes—helped by a blown call as Dewayne Wise fumbled Jack Hannahan’s fly ball in the stands yet was ruled to have made the catch—kept the Tribe’s bats silent as New York jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
But the Indians didn’t go down without a fight. Jason Kipnis led off the ninth inning with a ground rule double off Cory Wade before scoring on Johnny Damon‘s two-out single. Casey Kotchman followed with a base hit and Jose Lopez went yard for a three-run homer to put the Tribe back in it. Rafael Soriano ended the rally by getting Lonnie Chisenhall to ground out as the Yankees held on for a 6-4 win.
The Good: Between the possibility that Chris Stewart’s second-inning single should have been foul and the undeniable blown call that retired Hannahan while Michael Brantley stood on third base in the seventh, you could make the argument that the Indians would have won this game if not for Mike DiMuro’s mistakes. It’s a counterfactual that makes quite a few assumptions about what would otherwise have happened, but this might make two games this year in which bad umpiring cost the Tribe the game.
Other than that, you have to credit Cleveland for not just giving up at the end of the game. That the Indians rallied to score four runs with two outs in the ninth was a big confidence boost in an otherwise rough night.
The Bad: It just wasn’t a good outing for Justin Masterson. His streak of strong starts was snapped as he gave up four runs (all earned) on seven hits with three walks, striking out only two in six mediocre innings. You don’t want to read too much into one bad night, but it was disheartening to see him struggle like that after how he had appeared to be turning things around this month.
On the other side of the ball, Cleveland got shut out for eight innings by Phil Hughes? This is a pitcher who entered Tuesday with a 4.94 ERA and an even worse 5.13 FIP—heck, he allowed four home runs in as many innings his last time out. And he’s not even left-handed. Take away the ninth inning and the Indians would have scored five runs in their last five games.
The “Huh?”: Everything about the blown call in the seventh inning was questionable. Here’s the video, to start with:
Why didn’t DiMuro check Wise’s glove before he made the call? Why didn’t Manny Acta argue it? Why was DiMuro so quick to eject Jack Hannahan when he civilly asked what had happened? And why doesn’t anyone seem to care that Wise totally pretended to have made a potentially game-changing catch?
Interesting Tidbit: Nick Hagadone has now allowed 12 earned runs in eight appearances this month. Through the end of May, he had given up only nine earned runs in 26 outings.