Travis Hafner led off the 2nd inning with a solo homer which turned out to be all offense needed as Justin Masterson, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez combined to shut out the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0. Masterson improved his record to 6-8 by delivering an impressive 7 scoreless innings allowing 5 hits while striking out 5 and walking 1. Vinnie Pestano followed Perez with a perfect 8th inning which included 2K’s and Chris Perez earned his 25th save on the year with a perfect 9th inning.
With the victory the Indians improve to 45-41 on the year and into a tie for the second wild card with the Baltimore Orioles who lost to the Detroit Tigers 7-2. The Tribe remains 3 games behind the AL Central leading Chicago White Sox who defeated the Kansas City Royals 9-8 in 14 innings.
Ricky Romero took the loss and saw his record drop to 8-5 despite only allowing 1R/1ER over 6 innings while striking out 6 and walking only 1. The Blue Jays received 3 scoreless inning from a trio of relievers Jason Frasor, Darren Oliver, and Casey Janssen. The loss drops the Blue Jays to below .500 at 43-44 on the year and they remain in last place in the AL East.
This was Masterson’s second dominant outing against the Blue Jays. On opening day he delivered 8 dominant innings allowing 1R/1ER on 2 hits while striking out 10 and walking only 1 only to see the Blue Jays rough up Chris Perez to tie the game in the 9th and eventually win the ballgame in a 16 inning 5 hour and 14 minute marathon. Nobody felt worse about the outcome of that game than Chris Perez and on Friday evening he retired Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion to preserve Masterson’s victory in a game which only took 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete.
The Good: Justin Masterson continued an impressive beginning of the month of July for the Indians starting staff. Entering the game Indians starters in July ranked second in the AL in innings pitched (49.2), had recorded 6 quality starts in 8 games, and posted an ERA of 3.81 (21 ER/49.2 IP). Masterson’s 7 shutout innings moved the Tribe to first in the AL in innings pitched by starters (56.2), increased the quality start total to 7 out of 9 games, and lowered the starting staffs July ERA to 3.36 (21 ER/56.2 IP).
The Bad: The Indians had runners in scoring position in the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 7th innings but were unable to deliver the clutch hit.
The Huh?: Casey Kotchman not starting against Ricky Romero? In his career Romero has held right handed batters to a slash line of .233/.316/.351 while left handed batters hit him much better posting a slash line of .279/.363/.473. Ricky Romero is not the LHP that a manager tries to get Lou Marson plate appearances against.
Interesting Tidbit: Jason Kipnis had his sting of 18 consecutive stolen base snapped when he was picked off after a leadoff walk in the 6th inning.