Second Thoughts Game #103: Indians 1, Rangers 0
Masterson edges Darvish in pitcher's duel, as Bourn's homer leads the way
Player of the Game: Justin Masterson (7 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 0 ER, 1 BB / 8 SO)
The matchup had pitcher’s duel written all over it.
In one corner, Indians ace and All-Star Justin Masterson (12-7, 3.42 ERA) coming into the ballgame looking to match his career-high with 12 victories.
In the other, Rangers ace and All-Star Yu Darvish (9-5, 2.80 ERA) leading all of Major League Baseball in strikeouts.
The two hard throwing right-handers lived up to the hype, as both teams combined for just one run on eight hits, as a home run by Tribe center fielder Michael Bourn was enough for Nasty Masty and the Tribe to edge by with the 1-0 victory.
Another Masterful performance
What else is there to say about him?
Giving up no runs on five hits through 7 2/3 shutout innings Saturday, Masterson tied his career-high with his 12th win of the year.
The Indians right-hander continues to show he belongs in the conversation when talking about aces and front of the rotation starters in baseball. It honestly blows my mind how some fans still do not think Masty belongs in the same conversation as Tigers ace Justin Verlander, when he has him beat in every pitching category this season.
Masterson improves his record to 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA over his last two starts, yielding just one earned run through 14 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out 16.
A Natural Bourn Killer
The only run of the ballgame came courtesy of Bourn, as took the second pitch Darvish threw to the visitor’s bullpen in right field.
Not your prototypical power threat, Bourn has racked up two homers and eight RBI over his last three games. The speedy center fielder finished the first half with 19 RBI in 68 games before the All-Star break, and already has drove in 10 runs in seven games of the second half.
Signed to a 4-year, $48 million deal this past February, Bourn has without question become arguably the best leadoff hitter in the game.
Yu can’t always get what Yu want
If there was a tough break for a player Saturday, it went to Darvish.
The Texas starter six innings, giving up just one run on three hits while striking out 11. Darvish continues to lead MLB in strikeouts, now having racked up 172 K’s through 131.2 innings of work.
Despite his big league success at just 26-years old, the Japanese sensation falls to 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA lifetime against Cleveland, with 22 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Perez keeps the door shut
Say what you will about Chris Perez, the Tribe closer remained sharp Saturday night tossing a scoreless ninth inning to notch his 14th save of the season.
Since returning from the disabled list June 28, Perez is 8-for-8 in save opportunities, holding the opposition to a .180 batting average and sporting a 0.64 ERA.
Vowing not to speak to any member of the Cleveland media on record, the move for silence has paid off for Perez on the field. Whether he talks at all the rest of the year, it’s good to see the Indians have their closer situation all figured out as the month of August quickly approaches.
With the win, Cleveland (55-48) remains just three games in back of Detroit for first place in the A.L. Central. Saturday’s victory also gives the team their league leading 13th shutout of the season.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will look for the series sweep against the Rangers on Sunday, as Ubaldo Jimenez (7-5, 4.49 ERA) takes the hill versus right-hander Alexi Ogando (4-2, 3.13 ERA) at 1:05 p.m. Jimenez is 4-2 with a 3.42 ERA over his last 10 starts, but holds a dismal 6.09 ERA at Progressive Field.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.