Thanks to the inclement weather that made its way across Northeast, Ohio back in early April, the Indians were forced to postpone two games from their opening series against the New York Yankees. Thanks in part to a convenient scheduled off day for both teams, yesterday was the chosen day by MLB to sandwich two games in for the price of one. So, before embarking on a trip to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies, the Indians first made a pit stop in Cleveland to split a pair of afternoon games with the Yankees.
In game one, Justin Masterson took the mound looking to work into the late innings and save the bullpen for game two. Mission accomplished and then some. Masterson was on his game hurling a complete game, four hit shut out to pick up his sixth win of the year and improve his ERA to 3.14 on the year. Masterson also struck out 9 Yankees and limited the amount of opportunities he allowed the Yankees to have of his own doing by walking only 3 batters.
The offensive hero of the game for the Indians ended up being second baseman Jason Kipnis. In the top of the first, Kipnis drilled a 2-2 offering deep into the right field stands to put the Tribe up 1-0. It would end up being all the offense Masterson would need on the day and good thing too. For as well as Masterson pitched yesterday afternoon, the Yankees pitched equally as well limiting the Tribe to just 5 walks and 5 hits, but never breaking.
Meanwhile, game two was much closer than the 7-0 score would indicate thanks largely in part to Trevor Bauer. The Wahoo’s on First favorite pitched phenomenally well over the course of 6.1 innings of work. On the day, Bauer allowed 3 runs, only 2 of which were earned, stuck out 4 and only walked 2. It was a much better start than the last time out versus the Phillies, and light years beyond where he was a month ago when he was roughed up by the Rays.
That is perhaps the most encouraging sign of all from yesterday. There is a lot riding on the right arm of Bauer. Many feel he is a potential #1 starter and the future ace of the team and at 22 years of age he certainly has room to grow. Today was just a small sampling of what he may have to offer moving forward for the Indians. The only real question is how much longer do we have to wait before Bauer is a regular member of the rotation and no longer the go to guy for a spot start?
As for the game itself, the Indians offense was completely shut down thanks to an outstanding combined performance by Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren. Both combined to throw a 5 hit shout out while walking only 3 Indians. And while the Tribe was able to get a couple of threats at various points during the game, but at no point could they get the big two out hit that has become a staple of their offensive attack of late.
The Yankees on the other hand took their opportunities when they were handed to them. Their first run came when Vernon Wells hit an RBI ground out to short. Then, in the top of the seventh, the Yankees were finally able to get something of substance going against Bauer. After allowing a run to score thanks to an RBI double by Austin Romine, Terry Francona was finally forced to use his bullpen, calling on struggling left-hander Nick Hagadone. Things did not go well. Hagadone struggled once again with his control and allowed four runs on three hits and a walk. By the time Francona called on Matt Albers, the game was sufficiently out of hand.
The Good: Justin Masterson and Trevor Bauer. There’s not much debate about who the stars of the day were for the Tribe. Both pitchers were outstanding, particularly Masterson, and although they weren’t both victorious, it continued the recent run of solid starting pitching by the Tribe’s rotation. Also, added bonus points to Jason Kipnis who was the lone offensive hero on the day during game one and helping fuel the 1-0 victory.
The Bad: Nick Hagadone is in a slump. It’s clear that he is pressing right now and as a result his control is suffering. He struggled on Friday night in Detroit and again yesterday. One has to wonder how much longer Francona will stick with him out of the pen before deciding on a possible replacement. David Huff was recently promoted for long relief that was never needed. Could he stay on the roster at Hagadone’s expense?
The “Huh?”: The Yankees’ lineup. I realize injuries happen, but who was this team masquerading around Cleveland as the Yankees? Half of the names were unrecognizable and the other half were players who were stars or near stars five to ten years ago. It was very confusing, especially when the Indians fielded a starting lineup with a total salary greater than the Yankees starting lineup. When was the last time that happened? Yet, somehow, someway… the Yankees are in first place in the AL East.