Second Thoughts: Game #44 - Tigers 1, Indians 2
|W: Masterson (2-3) L: Verlander (5-2) S: Perez (15)|
The Indians squared off with the Tigers Thursday afternoon looking for the sweep against their division rivals. Justin Masterson got the start for the Indians and the Tigers countered with their ace Justin Verlander, who in his last outing had a no-hitter through 8 1/3 innings against the Pirates.
Scoring Recap & Highlights
The Tigers had a chance in the first inning but Miguel Cabrera’s laziness cost them a run. With two outs Cabrera smoked one down the right field line. He immediately went into his homerun trot, except that the ball clanked off the fence and Cabrera was held to a single. Prince Fielder followed with an opposite field single of his own that probably would have scored Cabrera if he had hustled in his own at-bat. Masterson escaped the inning after a nice running catch by Brantley in the right-center gap.
Shin-Soo Choo opened the Indians half of the inning with a 454-foot absolute bomb to the second deck in right field. Find the replay of this homerun folks, wow. Indians up 1-0.
For the second inning in a row the Tigers led off the 3rd with a double. After getting Andy Dirks to ground out, Masterson got Miguel Cabrera to ground to short. Asdrubal Cabrera made a nice play to just get Cabrera at first but the run scored tying the game at 1. Fielder then walked on four pitches but Masterson got Delmon Young looking to end the inning with a sharp slider.
In the fourth Brantley blooped a single to right with two outs and then stole second. Jose Lopez knocked him in with an opposite field single to give the Indians the lead 2-1.
In the fifth Lou Marson put up an awesome nine pitch at bat that resulted in a single. Marson then stole second, which was followed by a walk from Choo. Verlander managed to escape after Kipnis grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
The Tigers threatened in the fifth, putting two men on with only one out but Jhonny Peralta grounded into a double play. A nice thing to see after watching Peralta do that so many times in an Indians uniform.
Once again, in the seventh the Tigers threatened, putting two men on with only one out with Cabrera and Fielder coming up. Manny Acta made a mound visit and chose to stay with Masterson (despite the bullpen door opening and Joe Smith beginning to walk out), and Masterson got Cabrera to fly out and made a great defensive play on Fielder’s grounder up the middle to save a run and end the inning.
Vinnie Pestano worked a spotless eighth and Chris Perez made it a little interesting but had his good stuff working to get his third straight save and give the Indians the series sweep against their division rivals.
What Went Right
Overall Masterson pitched really well. He went seven innings, giving up 5 hits, 5 walks and only 1 earned run while notching 4 strikeouts.
Masterson came into the third game of the series looking at a possible sweep but staring into the face of Justin Verlander. Despite the walks Masterson pitched himself out of trouble when he had to and left after seven innings with his team in the lead, definitely a solid outing.
The Indians ran on the Tigers and may have shown one of their weaknesses in the process. Brantley and Marson both stole bases which was a nice boost for the offense. Brantley has now stolen five bases in a row without being caught.
Jose Lopez has hit in 10 straight games. When Jack Hannahan comes back (and who knows when that will be) Lopez is making it awfully hard to forget about him.
Lou Marson had a really nice 9-pitch at-bat in the fifth. He looked overmatched in his first at-bat, but battled in his second and smoked a ball in his third that Miguel Cabrera made a diving stop on. For a guy who rarely gets to play and then has to face Justin Verlander he looked good yesterday.
Two runs against Verlander is really more than you can expect. They did the little things to scratch one run across and can thank Choo’s bomb for the other.
Great play in the 2nd inning by Jose Lopez and Lou Marson. With a runner at third Jhonny Peralta grounded to third. Lopez bobbled the ball but kept his composure and threw a strike to Marson who was doing a nice job blocking the plate to get the out.
Good defense all day by Masterson on the mound. He snagged a few comeback shots and fielded some bunts nicely as well.
Vinnie Pestano got the job done again the 8th going 1-2-3. No surprise here and no drama like Wednesday night.
Perez had his good stuff when he came into the ninth yesterday. He allowed one baserunner and fell behind Andy Dirks but eventually got him to pop out for the final out.
What Went Wrong
Too many walks. Masterson pitched pretty well but he struggled with his control once again issuing 5 walks over his seven innings. He managed to get out of almost all the trouble he got into but his day could have been a lot easier without all those walks.
Early in the game the Tigers were determined to just go the other way against Masterson, an approach that worked. It will be interesting to see if hitters, especially lefties, continue to use this approach and just chip away at Masterson.
A solid job to get two runs against Verlander. They did enough against the Tigers’ ace to earn the sweep. Enough said.
All in all the umpiring was pretty bad in this series. That being said the Tigers constant complaining is really just evidence of their frustration. They are struggling, but they came into Cleveland hoping to continue to beat up on the Tribe like they did last year but the Indians had none of it. Three coaches got tossed in the series and Miguel Cabrera was constantly complaining, so the frustration is starting to show.
Justin Masterson certainly balked in the fourth inning. He never even came close to coming set, but there was no call and the argument led to Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland and his first base coach being tossed.
Manny Acta had a legitimate beef in the sixth inning when Quintin Berry tried to bunt Danny Worth over and was running inside the baseline when Masterson tossed to first. The runner should have been out when Masterson hit him with the throw but no call was made.
This was certainly an important series for the Indians. I know it is only May and there is a lot of baseball left to be played but if the Tribe had continued to be the Tigers’ doormat then the pessimism and negativity would have ramped up once again.
Instead, the Indians swept the Tigers, the attendance has seen a sizeable increase and the Indians are starting to get some national respect that maybe they are for real.
On a more tangible level, it was great to see the emotion on the faces of the Indians players throughout the series. Santana’s fist pump Wednesday night, Kipnis’ excitement on his go-ahead run Wednesday night, and the excitement of Perez and Pestano every time they come into the game. The excitement, the drive, the determination, it’s a beautiful thing to see.
Random Notes: Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander has now registered 52 straight starts where he has gone six innings or more. . . Verlander hit 102 MPH his fourth time through the lineup in the 8th inning, what a horse . . . The Tigers are -21 on stolen bases having given up 37 and only stealing 16 of their own . . . the Tigers have now lost 9 out of 13 . . . the Tribe travels to Chicago today to take on the White Sox and will send Jeanmar Gomez (3-2, 3.19 ERA) against Jose Quintana (0-0, 0.00 ERA) who will make his first major league start replacing the injured John Danks in the White Sox rotation, first pitch will be at 8:10 ET.
I was sure Manny would go to Joe Smith to get Miggy and then bring in Hags against Fielder, but for some reason he stuck with Masterson and his hunch was right. Manny is doing a terrific job this year. Moving Choo to the leadoff spot is a good example. He seems to be pushing all the right buttons.