Justin Masterson delivered a solid outing and Asdrubal Cabrera came through with a big clutch hit Monday night as the Indians beat the White Sox, 3-2, to win their third straight game and open a three-game series in Chicago on a strong note.
The scoring started in the second. In the top of the inning, Jason Giambi hit a single and Mark Reynolds drew a walk off Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod to put two on with two outs. Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a blooper to left field that took and bounce and slipped past Alejandro De Aza. The result: an RBI double that brought Giambi home and made it 1-0 Cleveland. However, Reynolds promptly ran himself into a pickle between third and home to end the inning and kill the rally, and Conor Gillaspie hit Masterson’s second pitch of the bottom of the inning over the right field fence to tie the game at 1-1.
The stalemate continued until the fourth, when when Hector Gimenez hit a one-out RBI double to bring Alexei Ramirez home and make it 2-1 White Sox. Meanwhile, the Indians made Axelrod work—he threw 109 pitches in just six innings—but they couldn’t get anything going at the plate against Chicago.
At least, until the eighth inning. After Chisenhall led off with a groundout, Drew Stubbs got a one-out base hit off Matt Thornton and stole second. Michael Brantley walked, and after an errant pickoff throw by Thornton and a Jason Kipnis strikeout Asdrubal Cabrera stepped to the plate with two outs and runners at second and third. He lined the first pitch into center field for a two-run single to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run lead.
The Good: Justin Masterson is earning his “ace” title. Though the four walks were a bit worrisome, the overall story Monday was that he held the White Sox to two run on four hits while racking up five strikeouts in seven very strong innings. Certainly no reason to worry when he’s on the hill.
Offensively, Asdrubal Cabrera was the hero with his game-winning two-run single. Meanwhile, Lonnie Chisenhall went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and Michael Brantley had both a base hit and a walk.
The Bad: Dylan Axelrod is an inexperienced, not-very-good pitcher who has some control problems and doesn’t get very many strikeouts—in short, he’s the kind of starter you’d expect the Indians to tee off against. Instead, they managed only one run on three hits in six innings of chances to hit him.
Interesting Tidbit: Alejandro De Aza did not reach base once Monday night. That may not seem like a big deal, but it’s noteworthy considering he entered this series with a 1.038 OPS in 33 games against Cleveland.