Second Thoughts Game #82: Indians 4, White Sox 0
Tribe sweeps the ChiSox as Masterson tosses his third shutout of the season
Player of the Game: Justin Masterson (9 innings, 6 hits, 0 ER, 1 BB / 8 SO)
For the first time since their last World Championship in 1948, the Cleveland Indians have swept their division rival Chicago White Sox on the Southside of the Windy City in a four-game series.
The Tribe would score three runs off ChiSox ace Chris Sale (5-7, 2.79 ERA) already defeating him for the second time in two starts this season. While Cleveland scored four runs in the ballgame, all they would essentially need is one run thanks to another masterful pitching performance by ace Justin Masterson (10-6, 3.48 ERA).
Nasty Masty tosses another shutout
It looks more and more like Masterson will represent the Tribe in the Mid-Summer Classic this month, as the right-hander pitched his MLB leading third complete game shutout of the season.
Walking one and striking out eight, the right-hander would get some help defensively as the team turned four double plays to help Masterson notch his tenth win of 2013. With a record of 10-6, Nasty Masty did not pickup his tenth win last season until August 25.
Now just two wins away from matching his career high 12 victories, I think some of Masterson’s success has stemmed from manager Terry Francona. Pitching under him in Boston a few seasons ago, the relationship between Masterson and Francona goes a long way, and I believe it’s one of the best Cleveland has had in a long time.
Come Sale Away
Things did not look pretty offensively one time through the lineup against White Sox ace Chris Sale. The hard throwing southpaw struck out five his first time through the Tribe lineup before Cleveland would collect their first hit off Sale in the fourth inning.
After entering 2013 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in three career starts against him, Sale is now 0-2 with a 8.03 ERA in two starts versus the Indians this year.
The Yanimal heats up
I honestly don’t see any reason why Yan Gomes cannot be the Tribe’s starting catcher come next season. The Brazilian native had himself a game on Sunday, picking off White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza off first base in the fourth inning.
The rookie also finished the game going 3-for-4, raising his batting average to .284 on the season.
With a solid bat and great defensive skills, Tribe Town just may be looking at their next starting catcher when next season rolls around. Gomes has handled the pitching staff better than Santana behind the plate and will only get better offensively with more experience and playing time.
From the Gutter to the Grail
After starting the month with a 1-8 record, the Indians finished the month of June winners of 14 of their last 19 games.
No player in baseball is more disappointed to see June come to a close than second baseman Jason Kipnis. Getting the day-off on Sunday in the series finale against Chicago, Kipnis hit .419 in the month of June with 12 doubles, one triple, four homers and 25 RBI. If the JK-Kid doesn’t represent the Tribe in the All-Star game this month, I may personally call Commissioner Bud Selig.
Take a look at these two player comparisons:
Player A: .287 44 R 88 H 15 2B 0 3B 17 HR 48 RBI 5 SB .384 OBP .502 SLG
Player B: .299 44 R 82 H 22 2B 3 3B 12 HR 51 RBI 19 SB .384 OBP .533 SLG
Believe it or not, Player A is none other than New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who leads all A.L. second baseman with more than three million votes. Player B is Kipnis, who has put up better offensive numbers than the four-time All-Star in the first half.
With the win, Cleveland (44-38) is now deadlocked in a virtual tie for first place with Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division. The team is back at the top of the division standings for the first time since May 23.
Up next for the Indians: A not so much needed off-day on Monday before traveling to Kansas City for a three-game division showdown with the Royals. Corey Kluber (6-5. 4.16 ERA) will get the start against K.C. right-hander Luis Mendoza (2-4. 4.16 ERA) Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. Kluber will look to get back to his winning ways after picking up the loss in his last start when he gave up six runs to the Baltimore Orioles this past Thursday. Mendoza is 3-2 lifetime against the Tribe with a 4.94 ERA.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.