A superb start from Justin Masterson and some clutch late-inning performances helped Cleveland overcome a dominant performance from Jake Peavy Tuesday night as the Indians beat the White Sox, 4-3, with a walkoff win in their second-to-last game of the 2012 season.
It was a pitcher’s duel from the get-go at Progressive Field as the first three innings passed with nary a run scored. Though the White Sox got a runner to scoring position in both the first and second innings Masterson kept them off the board until the sixth. Meanwhile, Jake Peavy’s opening salvo was three perfect innings in which he punched out four Cleveland hitters.
The Indians busted Peavy’s chance at history as Shin-Soo Choo ripped his first pitch of the fourth inning out of the park for a leadoff solo home run as Cleveland got up 1-0. The Tribe’s tenuous one-run lead held until the top of the sixth: A Dewayne Wise double and an Orlando Hudson RBI single put the Pale Hose on the board and knotted the score at 1-1.
Pitching remained dominant for most of the rest of regulation play. Peavy threw a no-hitter from Choo’s home run through the end of the eighth, allowing only a walk to Jason Kipnis and getting 15 outs after facing 15 batters. On the other side, Joe Smith relieved Masterson in the seventh and retired the side in order. Vinnie Pestano ran into some trouble in the eighth, but he was able to strand both of Chicago’s baserunners and keep the White Sox off the board.
Things changed in the ninth. Dan Johnson battled Chris Perez for a nine-pitch leadoff walk and Dayan Viciedo followed with a two-run homer to put the White Sox ahead, 3-1. But the Indians returned the favor in the bottom of the ninth as Michael Brantley‘s single and Travis Hafner‘s pinch-hit two-run bomb sent Peavy to the showers and sent the game into extra innings.
Not much happened for the first two-and-a-half frames of extra innings as Scott Barnes, Esmil Rogers, and Chris Seddon kept Chicago’s bats quiet and Brett Myers and Matt Thornton silenced the Tribe’s lineup. Then, in the bottom of the 12th, Lonnie Chisenhall followed Carlos Santana‘s leadoff strikeout with a one-out double. An intentional walk to Russ Canzler and a Jack Hannahan strikeout later, the Indians had two on with two out for Jason Donald, who hit a line drive to left field off Nate Jones to bring Chisenhall home and give Cleveland a walkoff 4-3 win.
The Good: Let’s start with the obvious: The late-game heroics. Things looked all but lost as the Indians came to bat down by two in the bottom of the ninth, especially with a Jake Peavy on the hill working on a one-hitter. That they pulled this out was really a remarkable feat, both in terms of clutch hitting and shutdown relief work when the margin of error was virtually nil.
Beyond that, how about Justin Masterson? He looked terrific Tuesday night, holding the White Sox to one run on four hits in six strong innings, striking out five against just one walk. It was an encouraging end to what’s been a pretty disappointing season for the Tribe’s ace.
The Bad: Chris Perez made some waves Tuesday with another round of controversial comments (what else is new), this time aimed at just-dismissed manager Manny Acta. Generally baseball people seem to think that it’s okay to be outspoken if you back it up on the field, but Perez sure didn’t do that Tuesday night as he gave up two runs on three hits and beaned Tyler Flowers in the ninth inning—if not for that, the Indians wouldn’t have needed to mount a comeback.
Interesting Tidbit: Travis Hafner now owns a .283/.458/.491 career triple-slash as a pinch-hitter. He has a 157 career OPS+ as a pinch-hitter, compared to 137 overall.