The Indians win a thriller against the Angels on a Nick Swisher walk-off home run.
That Guy You Know
C.J. Wilson is like that friend of yours who when you play video game baseball (MVP Baseball 2005 if you know what’s up) constantly throws pitches just off the plate in an effort to get you to chase. Wilson only allowed seven base runners over his seven innings, four of which reached on walks. He threw only 65 of his 114 pitches for strikes and four of his six punch-outs were of the looking variety, so this was about as close as one could get to being Effectively Wild.
The Indians only managed to manufacturer one run off Wilson in the third. Yan Gomes led off with a single and Lonnie Chisenhall walked to put two men on with no one out. Mike Aviles chopped a ball to second base softly enough to keep the Angels from turning two, putting runners at the corners with one out. With Michael Bourn batting, Aviles stole second to eliminate the possibility of an inning-ending double play, and Bourn’s subsequent groundout to first scored Gomes.
However, outside of the walks and a couple sharply hit singles from Yan Gomes, Wilson held the Indians quiet. They were held without an extra base hit through nine innings just one game after being shut down by a guy who inspires comments such as “Shoemaker is a guy that isn’t going to ‘wow’ you with his stuff” and “Sadly, Shoemaker has never had that great of statistics”.
But this really isn’t anything to be concerned about long-term. Sometimes teams struggle over a couple of games, or even a week’s worth of games. It doesn’t make things any less frustrating to say that, but it happens.
The Justin Masterson Experience
Justin Masterson was lucky to make it through the first four innings allowing only one run. Masterson walked three and hit one batter in those innings, and was constantly falling behind hitters. He got some help from the wind, which turned some potential home run balls into doubles and doubles into outs, an Erick Aybar caught stealing, and a double play on a sharp line drive to right field from Howie Kendrick.
The Angles got their run off Masterson in the second inning. Aybar led off with a walk, but was caught stealing on a very nice throw from Yan Gomes. Kendrick then hit a fly ball to right center that would have been a home run on most days, but was knocked down enough by the wind to keep it in the ballpark for a double. A Raul Ibanez groundout moved Kendrick to third with two down. With David Freese batting, Masterson bounced a pitch past Gomes to allow Kendrick to score.
Inconsistency has been the theme of Masterson’s season, and after laboring through four innings he finally settled down into a bit of a groove. Masterson allowed just two hits over his final inning of work, and more importantly he didn’t walk anyone.
Overall, it certainly wasn’t a bad outing for Masterson. But he’s still not pitching the way he did last year. He was lucky to work through his wildness (unlike Wilson, Masterson’s wildness seems much more unintentional) to only allow the one run. With one rotation slot, or potentially two depending on what you think of Josh Tomlin, still mired in uncertainty, Masterson pitching with some semblance of consistency is a must as this team tries to keep up in the AL Central Race.
Both bullpens made it unscathed into the tenth (including a 1.1 inning outing from Cody Allen in which he got the third out in the eighth with two men on). In the top of the innings, Scott Atchison got the first two outs in the inning before giving up a single to Kole Calhoun and a double to Mike Trout to put two on for Albert Pujols. With the infield shifted over to the left side, Pujols rolled a ball to the right of second base to put the Angles up 3-1.
But with the general state of the Angels’ bullpen, the game was far from over. Angels manager Mike Scioscia opted to go with recent call-up Cam Bedrosian over sometimes-closer Ernesto Frieri to get the final three outs.
Bedrosian walked Michael Bourn and struck out Asdrubal Cabrera to bring Jason Kipnis to the plate. Kipnis ripped a 2-2 breaking ball into left center field. Trout did a great job cutting the ball off and made a great throw in to second base that Kipnis barely beat to put the tying run on second with one out. Bedrosian walked Carlos Santana before giving way to Frieri, who got David Murphy to fly out to shallow left to bring Tribe fans’ current whipping boy Nick Swisher to the plate.
There’s little point in drawing all sorts of conclusions from one at-bat. Nick Swisher is still batting .200 this season. He struck out three times this game. If you’re of the belief that Swisher shouldn’t be in the lineup every day, one swing shouldn’t change that opinion.
But boy was it sweet to see Swisher drive a 1-2 fastball through the gusting wind into the right field seats for a walk-off grand slam. We don’t like to perpetuate media-constructed narratives here at Wahoo’s On First, but it’s hard not to buy into the impact this home run will have on Swisher’s confidence and team morale, on top of the jubilation that comes with winning a game after being down to the last strike.
The Bottom Line
The Indians took two of three from the Angels despite struggling mightily with runners on base. This win keeps the Indians one game above .500 (37-36), right I the thick of the AL Central with the Detroit Tigers coming to town.