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Game 104: Indians 5, Royals 2

Two times it appeared that the Indians would lose another Masterson start. But the offense came through at the last possible minute to keep the Indians above .500 and within 1.5 games of Detroit.

Justin Masterson gave up nine hits and a walk in eight innings, so he was almost always pitching with traffic on the bases. He allowed a run in the first after giving up a double and walk, then a ground out, in the first inning. After that he pitched seven shutout innings, but the Indians couldn't tie the game.

Felipe Paulino held the Tribe offense scoreless through six innings, allowing just four hits and two walks. The Indians hadn't scored since early in Wednesday's game, and that streak continued through the first seven innings of tonight's contest. The Indians had very good scoring opportunity in the sixth after Matt LaPorta doubled to open the inning, but LaPorta was tagged out at home trying to score on a fly ball to shallow left field. The decision to send LaPorta (a very slow runner) probably doesn't happen if the Indians were scoring even 3-4 runs a game. Kansas City's Matt Treanor had to leave the game after the collision at the plate, and that injury affected events later in the game. After they failed to score in the seventh, the Indians had not scored in 24 consecutive innings. Although the Indians have (pending a physical) added a huge upgrade to their pitching staff, the offense is what's really holding this team back.

Finally, the Indians broke through in the eighth inning off Royals reliever Aaron Crow. Lonnie Chisenhall led off the inning with a walk, and went to second after Brayan Pena let a pitch get away from him. Matt LaPorta couldn't get Chisenhall to third, swinging at a 3-1 breaking ball and popping out to shallow right field. After Ezequiel Carrera flied out for the second out of the inning, Michael Brantley came through with ground-ball single to right field. Jeff Francouer made an accurate throw home, but Chisenhall slid under Pena's legs to touch the plate before Pena could tag his upper body. It was a very good slide, and at the same time, Pena did a poor job blocking the plate.

The tie didn't last long. Justin Masterson gave up a single to Francouer to start the ninth inning, and then was removed. Tony Sipp came into the game, and allowed Francouer to steal second base. After Mike Moustakas sacrificed the runner to third, Sipp was able to get Brayan Pena to hit a weak popup, but allowed a two-out bloop single. The Royals had their second lead of the game, and had closer Joakim Soria waiting in the wings.

Asdrubal Cabrera opened in the action in the bottom of the ninth by getting hit by a pitch. Travis Hafner was up, and hit a grounder that might have been a double play had Chris Getz handled it cleanly, but the Royals second baseman bobbled it, and only got Cabrera at second. Hafner was pulled for a pinch-runner (in what would be Orlando Cabrera's last appearance as an Indian). Carlos Santana then went the other way with an outside pitch, hitting it down the third base line, and setting up runners at second and third with one out. Next up was Kosuke Fukudome, who was playing his second game with the Indians. Fukudome had a fantastic at-bat against a tough pitcher, and eventually got a pitch to hit into the air. His sacrifice fly tied the game.

Lonnie Chisenhall then walk for the third time in the game, setting the stage for Matt LaPorta's line drive three-run walk-off homer.

At this time of the year, every win is a big win, but this one was especially large. With a very difficult road trip looming and  in danger of losing their fourth in a row, the Indians' come-from-behind win coupled with the Tigers' loss brought them back with a 1.5 games of first. Had they lost, they would have been closer to third-place Chicago, and 2.5 behind Detroit.




Highest WPA Lowest WPA
LaPorta .344 Hafner -.253
Santana .319 Sipp -.229
A. Cabrera .210 Kipnis -.175