Justin Masterson Dominant in Win Over A’s
Justin Masterson looked as if he were in mid-season form. Too bad he appeared the only player on either side who looked to be up to the challenge of the major league season tonight. In seventh dominant innings, Masterson held the A’s to exactly zero runs on three hits and a walk. He also struck out four.
Meanwhile, Sonny Gray was nearly as dominant for the A’s. And while he struggled to make it through the top of the first unscathed, he eventually settled down and limited the Indians offense. He would often bend, but her never broke. In six innings of work, Gray held the Indians scoreless on five hits and three walks. The kid certainly has bright future ahead of him.
Offensively, the Indians had their chances. Repeatedly, they got runners into scoring position, but each and every time they failed to get the big hit. Oddly enough, it was many of the same suspects each and every time as well. David Murphy, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Ryan Raburn failed to get the job done several times. In the end, though, it didn’t really matter as the Indians were able to do just enough to get a couple of runs across the board in the top half of the ninth,
A cabrera walk, followed by a Murphy single, and Yan Gomes being hit by a pitch loaded the bases for the Indians. Nyjer Morgan followed them up a sacrifice fly to end the scoring drought, and then Nick Swisher followed with an RBI single to push the lead to 2-0. Jim Johnson, the former Oriole turned Athletic then left the mound to a chorus of boos raining down on him.
Of course, the Indians also had to get some breaks defensively as well. In the bottom of the eighth, Josh Donaldson hit a 400 foot single that failed to score Daric Barton from second base. Barton, believing the ball might be caught, attempted to tag up. The ball hit off the very top of the fence, missing a home run by an inch or less, and instead of giving the A’s the lead, provided the Indians an opportunity to escape without any damage being done. Cody Allen Struck out Jed Lowrie and then got Brandon Moss to strike out.
In the bottom of the ninth, John Axford made his first appearance for the Indians. And while he didn’t put up a 1, 2, 3 inning, he did manage to get the save. Sure he walked to guys and brought the winning run to the plate, but he ultimately accomplished what he was brought into the game to achieve. The Indians won the game and will begin the season 1-0.
One last piece of info worth mentioning, the new home plate collision rule came into play. After Asdrubal Cabrera singled back to the pitcher, Michael Brantley was thrown at that the play on a tag out. Naturally, John Jaso blocked the plate as Brantley approached. This led to a great deal of debate over what was or wasn’t written in the new rule. Sooner or later, that rule is going to blow up in a big way.