The Indians' starting pitching is still a problem, but today the bullpen and the offense overcame another short outing by a Tribe starter.
Justin Masterson, who had a short outing in his last start, was given an early 3-0 lead, as the Indians jumped on Chicago starter Felipe Paulino in the first inning, though that big inning might not have happened if a call was not overturned. After Nyjer Morgan singled to start the game, he was ruled out on a pickoff play. First base coach Sandy Alomar insisted that Morgan had gotten his hand to the bag before the tag was made, and so manager Terry Francona challenged the play. Video evidence proved Alomar correct, and the call was quickly overturned. Two walks later, the Indians loaded the bases for Michael Brantley, who singled home two runs, and when Asdrubal Cabrera beat out a potential double play, a third run scored.
But Masterson couldn't hold the lead. Justin's fastball topped out in the low 90s, and moreover couldn't stay in the strike zone consistently. He allowed the White Sox to come back and take the lead in the first, and after the Indians tied the game back up in the second (on a David Murphy home run), Masterson put the Tribe behind again by giving up a home run to Adam Eaton. Based on the first couple innings, it looked like the game would be a slugfest, and that's what it turned out to be. Masterson wouldn't get out of the fifth inning, and Paulino was finished at the end of five innings. Both clubs used their relievers extensively in the first couple games of the series, and again both clubs would have to go the bullpen very early in this one.
Although Masterson left early, he did limit the damage. Chicago loaded the bases in the both the fourth and fifth, but only allowed one run to score. Those missed opportunities would come back to haunt the White Sox, because the Indians would pull away later in the game.
The Tribe bullpen would restore some sanity. Josh Outman got the Indians out of a fifth inning jam and pitched a scoreless sixth inning, Bryan Shaw threw a 1-2-3 seventh (the first time that had happened for either club), and Cody Allen struck out the side in the eighth. Meanwhile, the Indians would take the lead for the third time with a two-run Ryan Raburn single in the seventh.
Finally, the Indians broke the game open in the ninth inning against a tiring Donnie Veal, who had pitched the day before and was throwing his second inning today. After Carlos Santana flew out to deep left, Michael Brantley walked and went to third on an Asdrubal Cabrera double. Veal intentionally walked the right-handed Raburn to face the left-handed Murphy, but the hot-hitting Murphy jumped on a hanging curve, driving the ball into the right field gap, clearing the bases in the process, turning an 8-6 game into an 11-6 game. Mike Aviles capped the inning with a single that plated Murphy.
John Axford, who had started to warm up while it was an 8-6, came in anyway to pitch the ninth, as he was the only pitcher in the bullpen who hadn't pitched in the series. He should have retired the White Sox in order, but Jason Kipnis booted what should have been the third out of the inning. Instead, he retired Alejandro de Aza to end the game, and with it ended the Tribe's three-game losing streak.
Tomorrow's forecast in Chicago isn't very promising (90% chance of rain in the afternoon), and I think both clubs wouldn't mind a rainout with the way their respective pitching staffs have been used this weekend. If the rain does hold off, the Indians will send Corey Kluber to the mound, with Chicago sending Jose Quintana to the hill.
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