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Second Thoughts: Game #1 Indians 4, Blue Jays 1

Masterson overcomes early struggles to lead Tribe

Second Thoughts: Game #1 Indians 4, Blue Jays 1
April 3, 2013
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It’s a Start

Big right-hander Justin Masterson made his second consecutive opening day start for the Indians on Tuesday against the Blue Jays and overall was effective in six innings of work. However, Masterson did struggle with his pitch location in his first three innings as he surrendered three hits and walked four over that time frame and loaded the bases in the third inning with no outs. Thankfully, Masterson got some help from his defense as shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera caught a liner from the seat of his pants and started a double play to get the right-hander out of that third inning jam.

Over the course of his last three innings, Masterson appeared to find his groove as he set down 11 in a row. By the end of the night, Masterson had an solid line by pitching six innings with one run on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts. He did hit a batter along the way, but overall had a start which he can build upon.

Asdrubal Cabrera: Deadly Glove, Deadly Bat

How about three consecutive All-Star seasons for the Tribe shortstop? Well, he got his campaign off to a good start Tuesday night as he started two double plays over the course of the game, including the big double play to help get Masterson out of a bases loaded jam in the third. Cabrera also did damage at the plate in the fifth with a two-run moon shot (or in the case of the Rogers Centre, a roof shot) off R.A. Dickey. Cabrera also had a walk in the first inning off the knuckleballer.

Gold Gloves All Around

Speaking of defense, Cabrera was not the only one to impress. Right fielder Drew Stubbs, second baseman Jason Kipnis and first baseman Nick Swisher added some web gems of their own on Tuesday night. Despite committing an error in the third inning, Stubbs made up for it in the eighth with a sliding catch into the wall in foul ground off the bat of Jose Reyes. Stubbs was not hurt and stayed in right field for the remainder of the game.

A Blueprint Win

As far as the pitching goes, you couldn’t draw this game up any better for the Indians as they got six solid innings from Justin Masterson and turned it over to their patented 1-2-3 punch out of the bullpen in Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez in the final three innings. In that time, the trio retired all but one batter as Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia reached base with a two-out double off Perez in the ninth. In 2012, Cleveland was 20-7 in games where Smith, Pestano and Perez all pitched. The Tribe bullpen is expected to be a strength for the team once again in 2013.

Opening Day Redemption

It’s nice to get second chances in life, and it’s even nicer when you get them under the exact same circumstances. Well, such was the case for Perez as he was summoned to lock down his second straight opening day save opportunity against these very same Blue Jays and an identical score with the Tribe up 4-1. Many remember, or are at least trying to forget the opening day debacle of 2012 where Perez surrendered the game-tying runs, which led to a frustrating 16-inning loss. In his “Take Two” of sorts, Perez only allowed one hit in a shutout inning, which earned him his first save of the season.

Quick Game Facts

  • The Indians’ 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays marked their first opening day win since 2008.
  • Chris Perez locked down his 100th career save as a Cleveland Indian Tuesday night bringing him four shy of Jose Mesa for third most career saves by a Tribe closer.
  • R.A. Dickey’s catchers only had three passed balls all last season for the Mets. Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia had three in one night while catching the knuckleballer.

Up Next: Indians vs. Blue Jays Game #2 @ Rogers Centre. First pitch at 7:07 ET.

Ubaldo Jimenez will toe the rubber against Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow in game two of this season-opening three game series. Jimenez is coming off a decent spring training where he went 2-2 with a 4.80 ERA. A significant improvement over the 1-4, 7.43 ERA mark he posted a year ago. Now it’ll be up to Jimenez to translate his spring training tune-ups into regular season play as he looks to turn heads in the final year of his contract.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

Jwahoo
April 3, 2013 - 4:51 PM EDT
Good points, Brandon.

If we can just get Ubaldo to pitch better then last year, Meyers and McCalister to eat innings, Kazmir to be the solid lefty and Carrasco to have a break out season this year should be alot of fun.
Brandon
April 3, 2013 - 11:11 AM EDT
I agree with Jake, Masterson threw harder than expected, which may be a very good thing. If He can throw a 96-97 mph 4 seamer, then he should be able to strikeout more batters this year. If he can learn to consistently elevate that pitch, it will be a devastating contrast to his sinker, which looks very similar.

Rick Manning pointed out that Santana should just sit in the middle of the plate and let Masterson's natural movement take care of the rest, similar to Fausto in years passed. Masterson is better when he is carefree and just lets it fly. Looked like he was pressing and nibbling a bit too much early.
Jake
April 3, 2013 - 10:24 AM EDT
I was impressed with his velocity last night. Ran it up to 95-96 mph and I think he may have even hit 97 a few times. If he can continue to get a handle on the movement of his pitches, I really think he can still emerge as our ace.
Tony
April 3, 2013 - 10:12 AM EDT
His ball had extraordinary movement last night, and you could see he really had trouble locating his two-seamer and slider in the first three innings. There was an obvious adjustment made after that third inning as he cruised through the 4th-6th innings, and it looked like he was throwing more four seamers in order to cut down on that movement and to throw more strikes.
Chuck
April 3, 2013 - 9:53 AM EDT
After that double play we saw a different Masterson. leads me to believe that there are times when he pitches that he is not dialed in. He has the talent to be something special, until he figures it out between his ears he will be the pitcher we keep seeing these past few years

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