Second Thoughts Game #42: Mariners 0, Indians 6
Tribe, Masterson shutout Seattle in route to their fourth straight victory
Player of the Game: Justin Masterson (7 Innings, 3 hits, 0 ER, 2 BB / 11 SO)
In what looked like it had the chance to be a pitcher’s duel in the making between the Tribe and Mariners was all but one-sided Sunday afternoon. Heading into Sunday, the Indians were a remarkable 6-1 on the year against former Cy Young Award winners, and now, they’ve dethroned a “King.”
On the arm of starter Justin Masterson and the stick of left fielder Michael Brantley, Cleveland cruised to an easy 6-0 shutout against Seattle on Sunday to notch their fourth straight win. Nasty Masty was filthy through his seven innings of work, limiting Mariners hitters to no runs on just three hits through seven innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts.
Brantley flexed some muscle early against 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, as the left fielder hit a huge three-run homer into the Indians bullpen to put Cleveland up five runs in the second inning.
Since starting the season 5-10, the Indians have gone a remarkable 20-7 over their last 27 games. Winners of 17 of their last 21, the team is playing their best stretch of baseball since September 2007.
Another Masterful performance
Looking like a Cy Young Award winner himself, Masterson was virtually unhittable Sunday afternoon, pounding the strike zone in route to already his seventh victory on the season. Now second in the American League in wins, the right-hander didn’t reach the seven win plateau last season until July 23.
Masterson (7-2, 2.83 ERA) has pitched like a true ace in his first 10 starts this season, throwing a MLB high 70 innings and holding opponents to a .210 batting average.
The Jamaican native has also thrown 19 consecutive scoreless innings over his last three starts.
A King in his own mind
As they have done all season, the Tribe offense wasted no time jumping on an opposing starter early. Indians bats roughed up King Felix scoring two runs in the first inning on 35 pitches. Through just two innings, Hernandez’s pitching line was already torched for five runs on five hits, as the team would dethrone yet another former Cy Young Award winner.
Coming into Sunday giving up just four earned runs through his last 44 innings, Hernandez (5-3, 2.07 ERA) fell victim to a surging Cleveland offense and is now just 6-5 lifetime against the Wahoo’s in his career.
Dr. Smooth leaves the yard
Hitting third in the Cleveland lineup with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera getting the day off essentially paid off well for Brantley and the Tribe. The left fielder went 2-for-4 with a huge game changing, three-run homer in the second inning.
Usually batting lower in the lineup, Brantley has been the most consistent hitter on the team all season long now hitting .301 with two home runs and 19 RBI. Against Hernandez in his career, the outfielder is now 8-for-20 (.400) with a homer and six RBI.
Cy Young Heaven
What is it about the Tribe offense and their ability to consistently take down former Cy Young winners in less than two months of the regular season?
Cy Young Award winners are now just 1-7 with an 8.21 ERA against the Indians, making Chicago White Sox starterJake Peavy the only former winner to defeat the Tribe.
Having beaten eight former winners through the first 42 games not only shows just how good the Cleveland offense is, it also shows that the team has exactly what it takes to win any single game, any day of the week.
Top of the lineup does it again
Just like it was on Saturday, the top three hitters in the Cleveland lineup were a big reason why the Tribe picked up another victory. On Sunday, Michael Bourn, Jason Kipnis and Brantley went a combined 6-for-12 with two doubles, a three-run homer and four RBI.
Kipnis continues to thrive in the month of May, now hitting .314 (22-for-70) with six doubles, two triples, six homers, 20 RBI and 15 runs scored this month.
The speed of Bourn also changed the game from the very first inning as the Tribe centerfielder legged out a leadoff double on a groundball up the middle to start the game. Like former Indians great Kenny Lofton, he flashed his wheels again in the third inning to beat out an infield single and later scored on the Brantley homer.
Hitting .321 on the season, Bourn has provided the Indians with a much needed spark at the top of the lineup that the team had been missing in recent years.
If you build it, he will come?
The Indians and their fans would get a surprise visit from arguably the best baseball player to ever hit the big screen on Sunday. Field of Dreams star and superstar actor Kevin Costner took in the ballgame from field box seats along the first base side of Progressive Field.
No, he wasn’t sitting with James Earl Jones (Terrence Mann) like he was in one of baseball’s most beloved films, but rather in town just taking in the ballgame. The actor is currently in Cleveland filming his new movie, “Draft Day” which is a story on the Cleveland Browns that is set to come out next year.
With another win and Detroit Tigers loss, the Indians (25-17) move to a season-high two games ahead of the Motor City Kitties for first place in the AL Central Division. Sunday also marked the seventh time this season the Tribe has shutout an opponent.
Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will look to breakout the brooms Monday afternoon in the rubber match of the four-game series. Left-hander Scott Kazmir (2-2, 5.33 ERA) will take the mound for the Tribe against Mariners righty Hisashi Iwakuma (5-1, 1.84 ERA). Kazmir owns a career 3-3 record against Seattle a 3.27 ERA while the M’s are 7-2 in games Iwakuma has started this season.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.