Second Thoughts: Game #63-Indians 2, Pirates 0
|W: J. Masterson (3-6) L: McDonald (5-3) S: C. Perez (21)
Player of the Game: Justin Masterson (7 innings 4 hits 0 ER 3 BB 9 SO)
For the third consecutive start Justin Masterson pitched like a true ace for the Indians, needing only one run in the ballgame on Friday night to seal the 2-0 victory against the Pirates. The Tribe would bang out just six hits in the game but it proved to be enough run support for the Cleveland ace this time, as Masterson dominated in the center of the diamond once again.
After an early season struggle against Interleague opponents, the Indians are now 4-6 vs. National League teams in 2012.
The Top 9
- Absolutely Masterful. No Indians fan could have asked for a better start from Masterson, especially after coming into the Pirates series on a three game losing streak. The Tribe ace gave up just four hits in seven solid innings of work, picking up his third win of the season.
- Looking like the Masterson of old. In three June starts, Masterson is now 1-2 with a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings of work, walking just six batters while striking out 18. I'd say he's finally back folks!
- Dr. Smooth does it again. Michael Brantley waited until his last at-bat on Friday night to do it, but the Tribe centerfielder extended his hitting streak to a career best 22 straight games with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning. It’s about time his streak starts receiving more national attention if you ask me.
- Attendance. 31,920 fans watched the Tribe pick up their 33rd victory of the season on Friday, the highest attendance at Progressive Field since Opening Day. With the weather staying hot like the Indians of late, let's hope this trend continues through the holiday weekend.
- Santana breaking out of slump? Carlos Santana has looked far from great at the plate over his last 10 games, but the Indians catcher just may be starting to turna slight corner. With an RBI single in the bottom of the third on Friday, Santana has quietly found himself on a four game hitting streak, where he's 4-for-13 (.308) in his last four games with two RBI.
- Catch by Kipnis. Cleveland clung to a 1-0 lead with a man on third and one out in the top half of the sixth inning when Jason Kipnis took a page out of Robbie Alomar’s book, as the Indians second baseman made a tremendous over the shoulder catch in shallow right field to keep the Pirates from tying the game. Please Tribe fans, start voting for Kipnis for the All-Star Game, he needs the votes!
- Perez picks up the save. No postgame chunks on this night as Indians closer Chris Perez picked up with MLB leading 21st save of the season on Friday. With another standing ovation from fans in the ninth inning, there's no question he has won over Cleveland with his continued brilliant dominace on the mound.
- Hannahan back. He may have gone 0-for-3 in Friday night’s ballgame, but it was nice to finally see Jack Hannahan back out on the field after missing about a month on the disabled list. It should be interesting to see how the Indians use both Hannahan and Lonnie Chisenhall in the lineup going forward.
- Marine week. I expected some tributes to the Marines during the game, but what I did not expect was the tribute to the brave soldiers on the field before the postgame fireworks. Incredible!
The Bottom 3
- No run support. Yes, the Tribe pulled out with a close 2-0 victory against Pittsburgh, but when is Masterson going to start getting some run support? Over his last eight starts now, the Indians ace has received a total of just 15 runs from the Tribe offense per game (averaging about 1.9 runs per ballgame).
- Struggle with RISP. The Indians continue their struggle with runners in scoring position as the team went just 1-for-7 with RISP against the Pirates. Cleveland must find a way to do a better job of this if they want to compete and contend all season long in the Central Division.
- Pittsburgh fans…really? Two Pirates fans sat in front of me at the game last night and started talking smack about how the Pirates have more World Series Championships than the Tribe. In fact one of Pittsburgh fans statements was, "What's more relevant, 1979 or 1948?" Really? No, we may not have as many championships as the Pirates, but at least we haven't had 19 straight losing seasons.
With the Wahoo’s victorious on the night, the Indians (33-30) move just a half game back behind the Chicago White Sox in the Central Division.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will look to win back-to-back games against Pittsburgh in their second meeting this weekend on Saturday, as it will be Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4, 4.91 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (6-2, 3.61 ERA) at 4:05 pm. Jimenez in his last two outings has been almost unhittable, going 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA and walking just one while striking out 11.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The problem is that Lowe, Tomlin, and Gomez are starting to slip. We need the starters to consistently go seven innings so we can mostly avoid the middle relievers.