Second Thoughts Game #66: Nationals 1, Indians 2
Walkoff victory suddenly puts Tribe on winning streak
In the immortal words of Lou Brown from Major League, “We won a game yesterday. If we win today, it's called "two in a row". And if we win again tomorrow, it's called a "winning streak"...It has happened before!”
Well, here we are. The Indians are coming off their third win in a row and are on that elusive winning streak after squeaking past Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals 2-1 in walk-off fashion on Friday night as the red-hot Jason Kipnis drove in Drew Stubbs on a fielder’s choice RBI groundout in the bottom of the ninth.
Funny how earlier this week, it felt like the sky was falling and the Indians would never win again. It just goes to show you that you can’t make an intelligent judgment on a team’s season as a whole based on an eight-game stretch. Yes, losing streaks are frustrating, but in a 162-game season, eight or so games don’t play a major factor into the grand scheme of things. And teams are capable of turning things around at any time as the Indians appear to be doing now.
Another gem for Nasty Masty
I made this prediction last month and I’m sticking by it: Justin Masterson will be on the All-Star roster this season. On Friday, the sinkerballer tossed another beauty as he went seven innings allowing only one run on two hits (and a wild pitch) while walking four and striking out 10. Unfortunately, despite matching Gonzalez pitch for pitch, Masterson took a no-decision in the game despite the Indians’ win.
The four walks were a bit frustrating, particularly in the third where the right-hander walked two and allowed a hit to load the bases with one out and surrendered a run on a wild pitch. Outside of that jam, however, Masterson was as dominant as ever allowing only three base-runners outside of the third.
Some question Masterson’s position as the ace of this pitching staff. No, he’s not in the class of Justin Verlander,Clayton Kershaw or David Price, but he’s not down at the level of a league-average number two starter either. His drastically increased strikeout numbers so far this year have put him on pace for well over 200 by season’s end. That’s an ace-like stat.
Whether or not Masterson ends up being a true ace, the fact remains that he will go out and give you a dominant start and a chance to win more often than not.
No place like home
The one unique thing about the Tribe’s recent skid has been that nearly all of it had taken place on the road. Prior to taking the final two games in Texas, Cleveland had lost 12 consecutive road games while going 3-2 in a brief home stand between road trips. Over their last 17 home games, the Indians are 13-4.
Well, the Tribe helped themselves to some of that home cooking on Friday night with their 2-1 win in front of the 30,000+ fans in attendance. Overall, the Indians have gone 19-12 at Progressive Field this season while posting a 14-21 mark on the road. So go ahead and buy a ticket or two to a future home game. Odds are pretty good that you won’t be disappointed.
Quote of the game
"We know we can be streaky at times but the potential is there. Guys never lost confidence during the losing streak," – Jason Kipnis.
Quick game facts:
- Justin Masterson had only 77 strikeouts at this point last season. He has 102 so far this season and is on pace for 231 by the end of the year.
- After batting .231 in the first two months of the season, Jason Kipnis is hitting .356 thus far in the month of June and is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak.
- Cody Allen is now fourth among American League relievers in strikeouts at 38.
- In 31 games at third base, Mark Reynolds has hit only .173 with four homers and six RBI’s compared to the .287 average, 9 homers and 35 RBI’s he’s had in 33 games at designated hitter and first base.
Up Next: Nationals vs. Indians @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:15pm ET.
The Indians will turn to Scott Kazmir to continue their newfound win streak. The left-hander will have his work cut out for him, however, as Washington will counter with a very tough right-hander in Jordan Zimmermann, who has posted an impressive 9-3 record and 2.00 ERA in 13 starts this season for the Nats.
Kazmir has had a bit of trouble in his last couple starts allowing four earned runs and taking the loss in each despite pitching six innings each game. On the year, Kazmir has averaged just over five innings per start, but has also averaged nine strikeouts against only three walks per nine innings.
Like Masterson vs. Gonzalez on Friday, the margin of error for Kazmir is slim. Masterson is capable of handling that, but with Kazmir, it would help if the offense could figure something out against Zimmermann before he settles in.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.