Coming off of a stretch of seven games in six days, the Indians pitching staff had been overused, over stressed, and over worked while taking on the Orioles and White Sox this week. With the only obstacle between them and a much needed day off being one final game against the White Sox, the Indians desperately needed a dominant pitching performance from Justin Masterson.
They got just what they needed and then some – Nine innings, zero runs, six hits, eight strikeouts, and a walk on 112 pitches.
Masterson was masterful once again on Sunday throwing a complete game shut out, his third of the season, and pulling the Indians into a tie atop the division with the Tigers. Over the course of his nine innings on Sunday, Masterson weaved his way in and out of the Chicago White Sox lineup with ease and razor sharp precision. With the help of a little defense, Masterson faced the minimum through the first six innings of the game and didn’t face his first real challenge until the bottom of the seventh. In that frame, the White Sox finally advanced a runner to second base, but a while time double play and a strike out of Adam Dunn later and Masterson was working his was back to the dugout.
Masterson also faced adversity in the ninth inning as well. After striking out Jor Danks and Tyler Flowers to lead off the frame, Alejandro De Aza and Alexi Ramirez reached base. After a hard-fought and stressful battle with the ever dangerous Alex Rios (even when he is marred in a 1 for 18 slump) Masterson and the Indians were celebrating victory and a sweep of their arch rivals from the south side of Chicago.
Meanwhile, the Indians scored their runs sporadically as the game wore on.
In the top of the fourth inning, Ryan Raburn doubled to score Drew Stubbs who has led off the inning with a bunt single. Raburn was followed by Carlos Santana and an RBI single to left to push the Indians lead to 2-0. In the top of the 5th, Lonnie Chisenhall‘s RBI ground out to second was enough to score Michael Brantley to make it 3-0. Finally, in the ninth inning Stubbs delivered a ground rule double to the left center gap, again scoring Brantley and making it a 4-0 ball game.
Thanks to Masterson and an all round stellar performance from the Indians on Sunday, the bullpen was able to get a full day’s rest heading into Monday’s scheduled day off.
With the win the Indians pushed the record to 44-38 and pulled even with the Tigers for the AL Central lead. Following an off day on Monday, they will travel to Kansas City for a three game set against the Royals.
The Good: This is a no brainer. Justin Masterson was superb and the star of the show on Sunday. Everything was working for him and as a result he threw his third complete game shutout of the season.
The Bad: Nothing. There are no complaints to be made after such a successful weekend in Chicago.
The “Huh?”: This four game sweep was the first time since 1948 that the Indians have swept a four game series from the White Sox in Chicago. That’s a pretty amazing stat. Granted, four game series aren’t the norm, but 65 years in between is just remarkable. I almost couldn’t believe it when Tom Hamilton said it following the conclusion of the game.