May 3, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (8) hits a double in the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Masterson's Gem Makes Gift Runs Hold Up

Tribe Takes Advantage of Sloppy Sox for Second Straight Win

On Saturday evening, Justin Masterson pitched seven and a third scoreless innings to lead the Indians to a 2-0 victory against their division rivals.  Chicago rookie Scott Carroll pitched well, but all the Tribe needed was a pair of unearned runs to defeat the White Sox for the second day in a row.  Lonnie Chisenhall kicked in an extra-base hit, Cody Allen continued to be lights-out, and John Axford pitched a perfect ninth for his league-leading 9th save.

Key Innings

Bottom of the 2nd, 0-0

Lonnie Chisenhall fell behind in the count, but stayed cool and continued his hot start to 2014 by socking a high breaking ball into left field for a leadoff double.  Asdrubal Cabrera stepped up next and drove a pitch deep to left-center, but Alejandro De Aza was there to make the play.  Good baserunning instincts by Lonnie Chisenhall allowed him to tag up and get to third, giving the Indians a chance to plate a run on a sacrifice.  However, Jason Giambi continued his hitless start to the season by popping out to catcher Tyler Flowers.  When David Murphy popped up on the infield, it appeared as though the inning was over, but third baseman Marcus Semien was fooled by the Chicago winds and missed the ball.  The error allowed Chisenhall to score from third and gave the Tribe an early 1-0 lead.

Top of the 5th, Indians Lead 1-0

Dayan Viciedo kicked off the inning with a routine grounder to third, but Lonnie Chisenhall’s throw pulled first baseman Nick Swisher off the bag.  Swisher couldn’t come up with the throw and the ball sailed into the dugout, allowing Viciedo to cruise into second.  Justin Masterson took Alexei Ramirez down swinging for the second time in the game, but then showed signs of falling apart.  A wild pitch allowed Viciedo to stroll down to third.  Masterson followed that up by walking Jordan Danks and hitting Tyler Flowers with a pitch to load the bases.  Marcus Semien stepped up to the plate and ripped a sharp liner to the right side of the field that might have gone for extra bases.  But Swisher made a phenomenal diving catch to double Flowers off of first and turn two to end the inning.

The Positives

Justin Masterson looked as dominant as ever.  It seems like he’s putting his early-season inconsistencies to rest.  Lonnie Chisenhall is showing no signs of cooling down.  And the back end of the bullpen continues to be as good as any in the league.  Whatever issues John Axford had during his last year and a half in Milwaukee appear to be well behind him, and the only runs Cody Allen has allowed came on one homer in Anaheim.

May 3, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher John Axford (44) pitches in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Cleveland won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Negatives

Michael Bourn left the game early with hamstring tightness.  With Jason Kipnis on the DL, it would be a huge blow to the Tribe to lose Bourn again for an extended length of time.  The offense also failed to follow up it’s explosive performance on Friday, getting zero hits with runners in scoring position.  But perhaps the worst part of Saturday’s game was the fact that the error epidemic continues to plague the Cleveland Indians.  Both errors came on plays that were about as routine as plays can get, and in the fifth it almost cost them the game.


Check It Out

-The Indians haven’t committed 30 errors in their first 30 games since then-Jacob’s Field opened in 1994.

-There have been 8 errors between the two teams so far this series.

-Alexei Ramirez was the first player in Chicago White Sox history to get a hit in 28 of his first 30 games of the season.

-Justin Masterson is tied for fourth place in hit batsmen this season.  He’s plunked four batters. Only Scott Feldman, Robbie Ross and Charlie Morton have hit more (5).

-After John Axford’s 1-2-3 ninth inning, the Indians have six relief pitchers with at least 9 innings pitched and an ERA below 2.40.  Those relievers are lefties Josh Outman (1.93) and Marc Rzepczynski (2.38), and righties Bryan Shaw (1.93), Cody Allen (2.19), Scott Atchison (2.31) and John Axford (2.31).  


Tags: Allen Axford Chisenhall Masterson

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