For the first time in a long time the Cleveland Indians handled their business and swept a lesser opponent. Behind 6.2 spectacular innings from Justin Masterson, the Tribe was able to top the Angels by a score of 3-1 for their third straight win. Nick Swisher added his 15th home run of the season and Chris Perez picked up his 20th save of the season in support of the big righty.
Masterson struck out seven Halos Wednesday afternoon and limited them to five hits and one run scored. Things could have been much worse, though. Supplementing for a lack of hits were five walks for the Angels’ offense. However, not a single one of those walks came back to bite Masterson as he was able to avoid the big inning.
The Angles scored their lone run of the game off of Masterson in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Josh Hamilton singled to lead things off and following a line out from Mark Trumbo, Angels catcher Hank Conger laced a double into the right field corner. Hamilton was able to race around the bases and score on the play, adding some drama to a game the Indians were seemingly in control of. Masterson would retire the next two batters to end the inning and the threat.
The Angels would get another opportunity to put runs on the board the very next inning. A lead off walk to Andrew Romine and bunt single by Peter Bourjos put the Angels in business. A sac bunt by J.B. Shuck thickened the plot, but once again Masterson would have no part of it. He struck out Erick Aybar for the second out of the inning. Rich Hill then entered the game in relief and promptly struck out Josh Hamilton to kill the rally.
Offensively, the Indians got on the board in the top half of the third inning. On a 2-2 fastball, Swisher absolutely crushed the ball into the right center bleachers to put the Indians up by a score of 2-0. In addition to being Swisher’s 15th home run of the season, it was also his second of the series. More importantly, it’s beginning to look as if he is digging his way out of his funk. Meanwhile, the Indians would add their third run of the game in the top of the ninth when Dan De La Rosa uncorked a wild pitch with Mike Aviles on third.
With the victory the Indians pulled themselves back to within 5.5 games of Detroit in the Central division. More importantly, they gained more ground in the Wild Card race. thanks to losses by both the Ray and the A’s the Indians now find themselves only 2.5 games back for a chance to play their way into the playoffs. They’ll look to continue this positive stretch when they come back home to face the Twins in a three game series set to start Friday night at Progressive Field.
The Good: The Indians got the sweep and in the process built back up some of the confidence that had been lost over the past week and a half. Also, Justin Masterson’s performance was much needed. After Tuesday night’s 14 inning marathon, the Indians needed to give the bullpen a break. By going 6.2 innings, Masterson did just that.
The Bad: It’s hard to find anything to hate given the circumstances. A three game sweep against a team that the Indians are definitely better than? Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.
The “Huh?”: Josh Hamilton was called for batter’s interference twice during this series. Both times he got into the catcher’s path on steal attempts because he lost balance flailing at a pitch outside of the zone. The second time really cost the Angels as the umpires decided that Hamilton’s interference was so severe it warranted calling Erick Aybar out at second. I can’t say I’ve ever seen that happen before.