June 19, 2013
Justin Masterson wasn't sharp tonight, especially early, but didn't give up the big hit. And he stuck around long enough for the Indians to take the lead.
Early in the game, the Royals were really hitting him hard, with even the outs being loud. Later in the game, the Royals were still racking up the hits, but they were more of the ground ball variety, balls that if hit a couple feed to either side would have been outs. But even though the Royals reached 11 times against Masterson, they could only score two runs off him. And though Masterson had thrown over 60 pitches by the time he got out of the third inning, he pitched into the seventh, making the end of the game easier for Terry Francona to manage.
Luis Mendoza, the Kansas City starter, operated on a completely opposite trend. The Indians didn't hit a hit off him until Michael Brantley hit a solo homer in the fifth, and in the sixth he completely imploded. Think about this: going into the bottom of the sixth, Mendoza had allowed just one run on one hit, but left after he gave up either hits or walks to the first five batters of the inning. He seemed to fall in love with what I think was his slider, and after a couple times through the lineup, the Indians started to lay off it. In that pivotal sixth inning, Drew Stubbs led off with a single, then went to second when Michael Bourn walked. Then, after at first showing bunt, Mike Aviles hit a drive that left fielder Alex Gordon couldn't bring down, scoring Stubbs from second. Then Jason Kipnis laid down a bunt that third baseman Mike Moustakus couldn't make a play on. Then Carlos Santana walked, forcing in the go-ahead run, and Mendoza's outing was over.
Becuase Vinnie Pestano had to make so many pitches the night before, he was unaviliable for work tonight. So the fact that Masterson pitched into the seventh helped immensely, as otherwise we might have seen Rich Hill in a two-run game. Bryan Shaw took over with one out in the seventh and finished that inning plus the eighth, and Joe Smith finished things up in the ninth.
Michael Brantley was the offensive star of the evening, hitting two solo homers (the first he's hit multiple homers in the majors) and driving home a third run on a sacrifice fly. He had been in a lengthy slump going into the game, but broke out of it in a big way tonight.
The Royals did score a late run when Eric Hosmer hit a double off Joe Smith with one out in the ninth. But Hosmer would make a bone-headed base running play, attempting to go from second to third on a grounder hit at the third baseman. John McDonald threw over to first, then got the ball back in plenty of time to tag out Hosmer to end the game. That's two brutal base running blunders over the past two ninth innings, but I'm going complain about them.
Kansas City came into this series rolling, and although the Indians with the series win opened up a bit of space between themselves and the Royals, I don't think they're going away. Hosmer and Moustakas are looking better at the plate, and the Indians were fortunate that neither Alex Gordon nor Billy Butler hurt them much this weekend. And of course their pitching staff is among the best in the league. But this time the Indians took the measure of them, and won their third straight series.
Roll Call (28 Commenters)
|2||Mr. Bad Example||38|
|10||VA tribe fan||8|
|23||new zealand tribe fan||2|