Justin Masterson turned in another brilliant performance and Cleveland’s bats once again roughed up a left-handed pitcher as the Indians beat the Orioles 6-2 in the finale of a four-game series in Baltimore Sunday afternoon. The win improves the Tribe’s record to 40-38 and cuts the White Sox’ AL Central lead to just 1.5 games.
The Indians opened the scoring in the top of the second as Shelley Duncan took Orioles starter Brian Matusz deep with a one-out solo home run, and Aaron Cunningham led off the third inning with a solo shot of his own. Back-to-back-to-back doubles in the top of the fourth from Jose Lopez, Duncan, and Casey Kotchman led to three runs in a rally capped by Lou Marson‘s sacrifice fly as the Indians jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
All the while, Justin Masterson had taken a perfect game through four innings before Jason Donald‘s error on what would have been an Adam Jones groundout ruined it in the fifth; Jones then stole second, moved to third on Wilson Betemit‘s groundout, and scored on Ronny Paulino‘s RBI single. Jones went on to drive in J.J. Hardy with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to score the Orioles’ only other run.
That was it for the scoring until the top of the ninth, when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a one-out double and scored on Jason Kipnis‘ RBI single. Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez kept Baltimore’s bats at bay in the eighth and ninth as the Indians breezed to a 6-2 win.
The Good: The Indians wrapped up the weekend with yet another strong offensive showing, scoring six runs on 11 hits and seven walks—believe it or not, this was actually their worst-hitting game of the weekend. Shelley Duncan was the offensive MVP, going 3-for-4 with a home run.
On the other side of the ball, what an outing it was for Justin Masterson. The Tribe’s ace held the Orioles to just one earned run on five hits in seven very solid innings, registering seven strikeouts without giving up a single free pass. Of the 21 outs he recorded, 17 came via strike threes or ground balls.
The Bad: The only real negative from this game was the low proportion of baserunners who came around to score. Six runs is plenty even when your ace isn’t on the hill, but it doesn’t seem like much when you get 18 men on base.
The “Huh?”: Remember all that talk about how the Indians can’t hit lefties? Well they combined to score 24 runs in three games started by southpaw pitchers this weekend. Perhaps the lefty-heaviness of the lineup has been overblown?
Interesting Tidbit: Sunday marked the 16th time in 36 games started this year that Jose Lopez has hit cleanup for the Tribe. He’s been a middle-of-the-order hitter for Manny Acta a total of 26 times in 2012.