Looking to end to end an nine game losing streak, the Indians went into last night’s game needing a dominant pitching performance from their ace and someone to come through in a big way at the plate. They got exactly what they needed as the Indians topped the Yankees 3-1 behind heroic performances from both Justin Masterson and Michael Brantley.
It didn’t take long for the Indians to score the game winning runs. In the bottom of the first. Brantley came to the plate with runners on first and second with two outs. It’s this type of scoring situation the Indians had floundered in so many time over the past month and a half, but not last night. On the first pitch of the at bat, Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda grooved a 93 mph fastball out over the heart of the plate. Brantley didn’t miss and the ball just barely cleared the wall in right center to put the Indians up 3-0. It was all they would need only no one knew it at the time.
That’s because Masterson was straight up filthy last night. Over the course of 6.2 innings he allowed only one run on on seven hits and two walks while striking out six. It was a vintage Masterson performance, the type that makes you scratch your head and wonder why he can’t do that more often. It was simply a thing of beauty.
Masterson eventually gave way to Vinnie Pestano to finish off the Yankees in the top half of the seventh and then pitched a picture perfect eighth to set up the save for Chris Perez. Perez, whose struggled in recent weeks, did what we’ve seen him do so many time this year. He dominated the top half of the ninth retiring the Yankees in order to earn his 33rd save of the season.
The win snapped a nine game losing streak for the Tribe and sets up a rubber match for tomorrow afternoon as Ubaldo Jimene will face off against Freddy Garcia. The Indians are now 55-71 on the year, still only good enough for fourth place in the AL Central. The Yankees, on the other hand, dropped to 73-53, but still maintain 3.5 game lead over Tampa in the AL East.
The Good: The Indians won! That’s something we haven’t been able to say a lot lately, so it’s a nice change. The other positive from last night’s game was the pitching performance of Justin Masterson. He did exactly what he needed to do as the ace of the staff and stopped the bleeding of another long losing streak before it could get any worse. Bratley’s home run was also a nice development. He had been MIA for a while now after having one of the best offensive stretches of his career back in July.
The Bad: The Indians were still only able to post four hits on the evening. Somehow, someway, they found a way to win, but one can’t help but feel like there was a whole lot of luck involved. It was also another game in which the Indians scored early and then did absolutely nothing offensively the rest of the way. In those situations it would be nice to see them keep piling on rather than letting their foot off the gas.
The “Huh?”: In the bottom of the fifth, Lou Marson got picked off of second base by Yankees catcher Russell Martin. Why Marson was so far off the bag and where he thought he was going is anyone’s best guess. It didn’t come back to haunt the Tribe, but Marson has to be smarter in that situation.