Indians split doubleheader with Yankees, remain confident
Masterson shuts out New York in game one, Tribe falls via shutout in second game
It was a tale of two similar, yet totally different ballgames in the makeup doubleheader against the New York Yankees on Monday. When the dust settled, Cleveland would split the twin bill between their AL East rivals as both games came via the shutout.
One word to describe game one: Masterful.
Indians ace Justin Masterson was close to perfect in the first game, as he blanked the Yankee offense in route to a 1-0 victory for his second complete game of the season. The right-hander allowed no runs on just four hits walked three and struck out nine.
“Masty went out and did exactly what you want your ace to do,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “From the very first inning he had power, he had his breaking ball and he attacked hitters. To pitch the way he pitched so effectively was impressive.”
Masterson (6-2, 3.14 ERA) became the first Indians pitcher to toss two complete game shutouts in the same season in 24 years. The other time it happened was on the arms of left-hander Bud Black and Greg Swindell in 1989.
“It felt good,” Masterson said of his shutout. “Guys were making great plays and that’s what kind of pumps you up as the game goes on.”
The only run support the right-hander would receive from his offense was a solo home run by second baseman Jason Kipnis in the first inning. It was not only Kipnis’ fifth homer of the season, but the fifth long ball he’s hit in the first inning this season.
That one run was all Masterson would need in game one, as he was dominant and in control of the ballgame from the first to the ninth innings.
The only trouble the six-foot-six righty would get into was in the second inning. After getting the first two outs, Masterson would get out of a bases loaded jam striking out Yankees shortstop Alberto Gonzalez to end the threat.
Defense also played a vital role in the second, as Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera dove up the middle on a base-hit by New York catcher Chris Steward to save a run from scoring.
“There was no wiggle room because we had one run, and he made it stand,” Francona said.
Masterson is now 3-0 in his career against New York at Progressive Field.
“I get a big kick just watching him because I think he enjoys pitching,” Francona said. “I get caught up when he’s coming off the mound just smiling at him sometimes that I got to remember that he’s pitching a game.”
The Tribe ace has also enjoyed playing for his former manager.
“I’m having a great time,” Masterson said. “Tito is the same way when I played for him in Boston, always smiling. We seem to have a good relationship.”
Unlike game one, two words to sum up game two: Easily forgettable.
Offensively, the Indians wouldn’t muster up a single run in the second game, as New York shutout the Tribe 7-0, snapping their three game win streak.
Game two featured the likes of 22-year old right-hander Trevor Bauer combined with the same inept Cleveland offense. Just hours after shutting out the first place Yankees, it was New York that would return the favor on the arm of rookie left-hander Vidal Nuno.
Drafted by the Tribe in the 48th round in 2009, Nuno (1-0, 0.00 ERA) limited his former organization to no runs on three hits in five innings of work to notch his first major league victory.
Despite losing, all was not lost in the shutout as Bauer pitched well enough to give his team a chance to win in just his third start in an Indians uniform. The hard throwing right-hander recorded his longest big league outing of his career, going 6 1/3 innings giving up two earned runs on six hits walking two and striking out four.
“There’s so much to like about him,” Francona said. “He’s still developing and he gives us a chance to win every time he pitches.”
Through the first six innings, Bauer looked great giving up just one unearned run in the first inning. With New York still clinging to a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, the Yankees offense broke the game wide open in the seventh by scoring six runs in the inning. Three of the six runs came off of the rookie right-hander.
“I can be a lot better than I was today, and I was a lot better than I was this year so definitely moving in the right direction.” Bauer said.
In three starts this year, the Tribe’s top prospect is now 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA.
“I think I was better today than in any of the other starts in some ways,” Bauer said. ”In some ways I was better in those than I was today, but overall I think it was a move in the right direction and I’m definitely going to build off this.”
His teammates agree, also noticing the confidence he is building with each big league start.
“I feel like each time he’s come up here he’s done well,” Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said. ”We’re excited to have him on our side, and for a guy like me, I’m excited to see him grow up.”
While starting pitching gave the team a chance to win in both games, it was the Tribe offense that would come out flat all afternoon, scoring just one run on 10 hits in 17 innings.
“Three games in 36 hours and win two out of three, I don’t feel bad about that,” Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said. “We were a little tired today and it showed, but to come out of this with one win we have to be happy about that,”
Even with dropping the second game, Francona also takes away a lot more.
“If you would’ve told me going into the game today that we would score one run, I’m not sure I would’ve thought we would come out with a split.” Francona said. “We had Kipnis’ home run really to show for the whole day and we got a split. It’s a mixed bag feel, but I’ll probably take out of it more than anything we kept the bullpen intact.”
With the split, Cleveland falls just a half game behind the Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central with a record of 21-16.
“Either way, it was a good win for us in the first game,” Swisher said. The second game we just have to forget about that. We got two big games in Philly coming up it will be nice to have maybe a little night off and get back out there tomorrow.”
Cleveland will now travel to the City of Brotherly Love as they open up a two-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday. Tribe Left-hander Scott Kazmir (2-1, 4.87 ERA) will look to continue his dominance against rookie Jonathan Pettibone (2-0, 3.63 ERA). Kazmir is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last two starts.
Notes: Prior to Monday’s doubleheader, the Indians sent third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall to Triple-A Columbus and recalled left-hander David Huff. In 26 games this season, Chisenhall was hitting just .213 (20-for-94) with four doubles, three homers and 11 RBI.
Huff was 3-1 with a 4.07 ERA in nine games (two starts) with the Columbus Clippers.
He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the Monday’s second game, giving up just one hit and striking out two. Huff will primarily serve as the long man out of the Tribe bullpen.
For the 24-year-old Chisenhall, Francona believes he just needs to relax.
“The outcome of his at-bats I think were starting to effect his play,” Francona said. “Lonnie is such a building block in our organization, he’s going to figure it out and he’ll be a force here.”
“I just think it’s better for him right now to go down and take some deep breaths, get some at-bats and get himself rolling and you’ll see him back here,” Francona added. “He’s going to be a big part of what we do.”
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While I still believe he can be one of the many reasons why the Tribe can win this year, I think it will only help him in his future in the big leagues
Great to see some fans in the seats!!
Jim, I know your a Chisenhall fan but he will only benefit from being sent down.
He'll be back!!