Justin Masterson came through with a solid outing and the Tribe got just enough against Rick Porcello Tuesday night as the Indians beat the Tigers, 3-2, to clinch the series victory in their three-game set in Detroit. The win boosts Cleveland to 58-78, good for 15.5 games out in the AL Central.
After a quiet first inning on both sides, the Indians got things going in the top of the second. Carlos Santana led off the inning with a single. Michael Brantley then batted Porcello for eight pitches before delivering with an RBI double to put Cleveland on the board. Casey Kotchman‘s groundout moved Brantley to third, and Jack Hannahan‘s two-out RBI single brought Brantley home to put the Tribe ahead 2-0.
The scoring continued in the third. Shin-Soo Choo started things off with a leadoff two-bagger, then came home on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s one-out ground rule double. The Tribe stranded two when Russ Canzler ended the inning with a flyout, but the Indians managed to extend their lead to 3-0.
Meanwhile, Detroit’s bats couldn’t touch Masterson until the bottom of the sixth. After Omar Infante grounded out, Austin Jackson reached with a walk; it the only free pass Masterson allowed Tuesday night, and it came back to haunt him as Miguel Cabrera hit a two-out two-run homer to make it a one-run game.
That was it for the scoring. Drew Smyly, Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit kept the Tribe off the board in the late innings, while Scott Barnes, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano shut out the Tigers before Chris Perez earned the save with a perfect ninth as Cleveland held on for a 3-2 win.
The Good: Justin Masterson was unspectacular but solid, holding Detroit to two runs on four hits in six innings pitched. He gave up a home run and his strikeout total (four) was a little disappointing, but he allowed only one walk and pitched well enough for the Indians to win in a pitcher’s duel. Nice outing.
Offensively, Asdrubal Cabrera went 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, Carlos Santana went 2-for-4 with a walk, and Michael Brantley went 1-for-2 with a double and two bases on balls.
The Bad: Situational hitting. Three runs was enough for the Tribe Tuesday night, but after getting 14 baserunners (nine hits and five walks) you’d expect them to have collected a couple more insurance runs.
The “Huh?”: Scott Barnes made four pitches in the top of the seventh, inducing Brennan Boesch to fly out before turning the ball over to Joe Smith. In a vacuum it makes sense to bring in a southpaw pitcher to face the left-handed Boesch rather than go straight to the right-handed Smith. But Boesch isn’t a very good hitter (.245/.289/.383 with a 79 wRC+), nor is there a very big difference in his platoon splits this year (.650 OPS vs. LHP, .690 vs. RHP). Why not just go with Smith?
Interesting Tidbit: Monday and Tuesday’s victories marked the first time the Tribe had won two consecutive games since August 8-9 against the Twins and Red Sox.