Talk about a successful home stand. After struggling out of the gate after the All-Star break, the Indians came roaring back to sweep a three game set against the Rangers and, with yesterday’s 6-1 victory, swept the White Sox in a hard-fought four game series that definitely wasn’t short on drama.
Far and away the hero of yesterday afternoon’s game was Ryan Raburn. Filling in for Jason Kipnis in the three spot, all Raburn did was go 3 for 4 with two home runs and four runs batted in. Not too shabby for a player brought in essentially on a flyer and has done nothing but exceed expectations at each and every turn. After looking as if his career may be over following a disastrous 2012 with Detroit, Raburn has found new life in Cleveland. He is now hitting .283 with a .377 OBP, 13 home runs, and 37 runs driven in.
Not to be outdone, Justin Masterson did what Justin Masterson tends to do. That being, pitch 6.2 dominant innings. He allowed only one run on five hits and three walks while striking out seven. This also continued a stretch of impressive pitching for Masterson against the White Sox in 2013. In four starts, Masterson is 4-0 with a microscopic ERA of well below 1.00, two complete games, and 27 strikeouts against the Pale Hosers from the Southside.
Meanwhile, the Indians once again stuck it to Chris Sale. Despite his lackluster record, Sale possessed an ERA of 2.48 entering play yesterday afternoon. Once again the Indians were able to put crooked numbers on the boards against the White Sox ace. Sales lasted only five innings and allowed five runs on 10 hits.
The Indians started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. Mark Reynolds, who has been MIA at the plate for the better part of two months, came through with an RBI single up the middle to put the Indians up 1-0.
In the bottom of the third Ryan Raburn struck for the first of what would turn out to be two home runs on the day. With Drew Stubbs aboard, Raburn lifted a fly ball to right that just barely cleared the wall to put the Tribe up 3-0. Then in the fifth, again with Stubbs on base, Raburn singled to left to put the Tribe up 4-0. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a sacrifice fly to center to drive home Nick Swisher.
In the top of the sixth the White Sox finally responded. Alejandro De Aza, who only ever seems to play well against the Indians homered to right to put the Sox on the board. The positive vibes for the White Sox wouldn’t last, though. After loading the bases with one out, Masterson and Rich Hill were able to escape unscathed. the following half inning, Ryan Raburn struck again. This time he sent a towering shot into the bleachers in left center to put the Tribe up 6-1 and essentially seal the game.
Rich Hill and Joe Smith Would close out the game, combining to pitch 1.1 innings of scoreless relief.
The Indians travel to Miami to take on the Marlins in yet another one of these new mid-season interleague series. The three game series starts tonight as Ubaldo Jimenez takes the hill for the Tribe against pitching phenom Jose Fernandez. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 from Marlins Park.
The Good: Everything. The Indians are on a tear right now. They’ve won eight games in a row and are showing no signs of slowing down. They have gelled together at the perfect time to try to overtake the Tigers in the Central or to make a run at one of the two wild card spots in the AL.
The Bad: Even though the Indians have won eight straight games, they haven’t been able to surpass the Tigers for the AL Central lead. As a matter of fact, the Tigers, Indians and Royals are all playing great right now. The Tigers have won five straight, the Indians eight straight, and the Royals nine straight. So, despite the Indians best efforts they are stuck in second. It also means they have to keep this pace going to avoid the fast charging Royals.