Yesterday the Indians outslugged some defensive miscues, and tonight it was Masterson and the bullpen that got the Indians past some errors.
Justin Masterson has had an up-and-down season, but against an excellent offensive club was both effective and efficient. The White Sox don't have many left-handed weapons in their lineup, so Masterson was able to utilize his wipeout slider often. In addition, Masterson rarely fell behind in the count, which limited the traffic on the bases and allowed him to pitch into the eighth inning.
The key play of the game came in the top of the fifth inning. A Lonnie Chisenhall throwing error, a walk, and a hit batsman loaded the bases with one out, and Marcus Semien hit a pea that seemed ticketed to the right field corner. But Nick Swisher somehow snagged the line shot and stepped on first base for a double play, getting Masterson and the Indians out of a huge jam. If Swisher doesn't catch the ball, the White Sox likely take a 3-1 lead, and given the final score, would have had an excellent chance of winning the game. Instead, the 1-0 lead was preserved, with another run forthcoming in the bottom of the inning.
The Indians didn't hit White Sox starter Scott Carroll very hard, and needed help from the Chicago defense to score. In the second inning Lonnie Chisenhall scored when Marcus Semien dropped an infield popup with two outs. Their second run came after Jose Ramirez reached base on an infield hit/error. Ramirez laid down a bunt that didn't travel past the home plate dirt cutout, but Tyler Flowers' throw to first was high, and Ramirez lost no time turning and going to second. Ramirez went to third on a Mike Aviles sacrifice bunt, and scored when Nick Swisher hit a fly ball to deep center field.
Unfortunately not all the news was good. Michael Bourn, who had missed a big chunk of April with a hamstring pull, left the game with hamstring tightness. And Jason Giambi, who started the season on the Disabled List, left the game with cramping in his calf. The Indians were already playing with a short bench because of a series of moves made before the game, so after those two were replaced only George Kottaras was left on the bench when the game ended. Depending on how serious the injuries are, we could see another move made before tomorrow's game.
As mentioned before, Justin Masterson left the game in the eighth with one out and a runner on first. Cody Allen, who has been exceptional this season, retired Alejandro de Aza, but Gordon Beckham hit a drive to deep right field that David Murphy just missed catching, so the White Sox got the tying runs on base (second and third) with Jose Abreu coming up. Terry Francona then had a decision to make: have Allen go after the right-handed Abreu, or walk him and face the left-handed Adam Dunn. Francona let Allen pitch to Abreu, and the move paid off, as Allen struck the White Sox first baseman out on three sliders. John Axford then pitched an uneventful ninth to preserve the shutout and to give the Indians their second straight win.
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