Second Thoughts: Game #86-Indians 1, Blue Jays 0
|W:J.Masterson (6-8) L:R.Romero (8-5) S:C.Perez (25)
Player of the Game: Justin Masterson (7 innings 5 hits 0 ER 1 BB 5 SO)
The Indians and Justin Masterson got some much needed revenge against the team north of the boarder on Friday, as the Tribe would need just one run in the ballgame to seal a huge 1-0 victory. Cleveland would get their one run on a solo homer by Travis Hafner in the second inning and seemingly never look back.
No fan could have asked for a better start from the Indians ace, as he showed great control and speed, throwing 16 of 25 first pitch strikes and topping out at 97 MPH on the night. Giving up no walks on Friday, Masterson has allowed just eight walks over his last 33 innings.
The Top 9
- Masterson gets revenge. After throwing eight innings of two hit ball on Opening Day against the Jays, the Tribe ace started Friday where he left off back in April, this time though notching his sixth victory of the year. Over his last 10 starts, Masterson is now 5-5 with a 3.39 ERA walking 19 and striking out 60 in 66 innings.
- Double plays. The Indians starter also induced 13 of 16 groundball outs, including two big double plays in the second and third innings with the Blue Jays threatening to score.
- CP with another save. After blowing the save before the All-Star break, Chris Perez breezed through the ninth against the Jays heart of the order picking up his MLB leading 25th save of the season. Perez is also now 8-for-8 in one-run saves. Could he end up saving 50 games in 2012 when it’s all said and done?
- Pronk goes yard. Travis Hafner is just 3-of-19 (.158) since returning from the disabled list last week, but two of his three hits have come via the long ball. I wouldn’t mind seeing Pronk bat .250 or even .240 the rest of the year, just as long as he keeps his power stroke and helps the Tribe win games down the stretch like he did last night.
- Another win against a lefty. Two weeks ago the Tribe was just 5-16 against left-handed starting pitchers. With the win against Toronto southpaw Ricky Romero, the team has now gone 5-0 against lefties in their last five games. I think the team is finally starting to click against left-handed starters just at the right time with both the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers staying hot and playing good baseball as well.
- Things getting easier for The Caveman. Say what you will about the Indians needing another hitter, Johnny Damon has hit the ball very well for the last month now. In his last 30 games, the Tribe left fielder is hitting .305 (18-for-59) with three doubles, one triple, two home runs and seven RBI. I think his veteran presence is starting to click in at just the right time both on the field and in the clubhouse as well. He was brought in to help the Tribe get to the postseason and while it took awhile, it looks as though Damon himself is finally comfortable and ready for another playoff run.
- Louuuu. With a base-hit in the ballgame, Lou Marson extended his hitting streak to eight games on the season. Marson is now hitting .433 with three doubles and four RBI over the eight game stretch. I like what Indians manager Manny Acta did with the lineup as well, having Marson start and Carlos Santana play first with Casey Kotchman coming in as a defensive replacement late in the ballgame at first base. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of that especially with the way the Tribe backstop has been hitting of late.
- Stopping the Jays sluggers. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion went a combined 0-for-7 in the ballgame with two strikeouts. If Cleveland has any chance of taking this series, they must stop the two Blue Jay right-handed boppers from hitting any blasts or extra-base hits. So far so good.
- Dr. Smooth with another multi-hit game. Michael Brantley went 3-for-4 in the ballgame with a double batting sixth in the Tribe lineup. The Indians centerfielder now has five multi-hit games over his last 11 games. That’s why they call him Dr. Smooth, it’s all about consistency from Brantley no matter where he’s hitting in the batting order.
The Bottom 3
- Just one run from offense. Even with the victory, it would have been nice to see the Tribe put up some more runs against Ricky Romero and the Toronto pitching staff on Friday. Yes, Romero is one of the best lefties in the game, but the Indians had a few chances to break the game open and just couldn’t get any clutch hits offensively. Carlos Quentin sure would look good in a Tribe uniform, just saying.
- Hitless with RISP. Indians hitters banged out eight hits but went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position last night. Not many teams can pull out a 1-0 win on the road without getting some clutch 1-out or 2-out hits. The Tribe has shown they have good starting pitching, but they need to start stringing together more runs and late rallies if they have any chance of staying in contention.
- Strikeouts. Yes, the Wahoo’s lead all of Major League Baseball in walks with 313, but they also are starting to climb the strikeout category with nine strikeouts in the game last night. Shin-Soo Choo leads the team in strikeouts with 78.
With the win against Toronto and a White Sox victory, the Indians (45-41) remain just three games in back of Chicago in the Central Division. Hafner needs just 15 more homers to become the ninth player in Tribe history with 200 home runs in a career as a designated hitter.
Up next for the Indians: Cleveland will try and make it two straight on Saturday, as it will be Ubaldo Jimenez (8-7, 4.50 ERA) vs. Aaron Laffey (0-1, 2.67 ERA) at 1:07 pm. Jimenez is 1-1 so far in the month of July with a 3.29 ERA in two starts. Kotchman is 9-for-10 against Laffey in his career with two RBI versus the former Indians starter.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.