Second Thoughts Game #98: Indians 7, Twins 1
Masterson flirts with a no-no as Tribe takes the series finale easily in Minnesota
Player of the Game: Justin Masterson (7 innings, 1 hit, 1 ER, 0 BB / 8 SO)
It was almost a day for the record books for the hard throwing right-hander they call Nasty Masty. Indians starter Justin Masterson (11-7, 3.60 ERA) flirted with one of baseball’s most gratifying tasks—tossing a no-hitter.
Masterson breezed by a full six innings of work without surrendering a hit to the Twins, but a bloop single by Brian Dozier to lead off the seventh ended his bid for history.
Unlike the two previous games in the three-game weekend series with Minnesota, Cleveland finally got their bats rolling. The seven runs scored in the series finale was more than enough to give Cleveland their first post All-Star break victory.
Masty lookin’ pretty nasty
And who said the Indians are looking for a front of the rotation starter?
Notching his 11th victory on Sunday, Masterson already ties his total victories he recorded last season, now just one win away from tying his career-high of 12 wins he set back in 2011.
Masty was absolutely brilliant in his seven innings of work, yielding just one run on one hit walking none and striking out eight.
Maybe it was the fact that Detroit manager Jim Leyland did not insert the American League All-Star into Tuesday’s All-Star game that fueled Masterson to pitch a gem. Whether that was the case or not, it's ridiculous to say the Tribe doesn't have an "ace" to lead them to a potential playoff birth.
Take away his three worst starts of the season, and Masterson would be 11-4 with a 2.67 ERA.
All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis continues to tear up the stat sheets offensively.
Hitting his second long ball in as many games, Kipnis is now tied for the team lead in homers with 15 on the season, already surpassing his career-high 14 dingers he hit in 2012.
His new opposite field approach at the plate has made him not only hit for a higher average, but still able to drive the ball out of the ballpark the other way.
Kipnis now leads the team in every offensive category, including average, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and on-base percentage.
Let's take a look at how Kip ranks with two of the most notable and recognizable players in the league.
Kipnis .303 BA 56 R 100 H 23 2B 3 3B 15 HR 62 RBI 21 SB .386 OBP .527 SLG
Fielder .269 BA 49 R 101 H 21 2B 0 3B 16 HR 70 RBI 1 SB .362 OBP .453 SLG
Pujols .252 BA 47 R 93 H 19 2B 0 3B 16 HR 58 RBI 1 SB .325 OBP .434 SLG
He won’t win it, but there’s no question Kipnis’ name will be mentioned as an American League MVP candidate by season’s end.
Smooth as it gets
With Cleveland up 3-0 in the fourth, Michael Brantley broke the game wide open with three-run triple in the fifth inning.
The bases clearing knock gave Brantley 51 RBI on the season, now just nine away from tying his career-high in runs batted in he set in 2012.
Dr. Smooth has arguably been the Tribe's most clutch hitter in the batter's box all season, now hitting .370 with runners in scoring position.
Barring any trade in the upcoming week, you would have to think it’s only a matter of time before Brantley is inserted in the cleanup spot in lineup. He wouldn't be your typical American League cleanup hitter that boasts power, but with the likes of Nick Swisher and Reynolds still struggling offensively, Brantley is easily the best in-house option for that roll.
What a difference one game makes.
Coming into Sunday’s ballgame, the Tribe scored just four runs on nine hits in the first two games of the series, only to breakout Sunday afternoon to score seven runs on nine hits in the series finale.
Twins starter Scott Diamond (5-9, 5.53 ERA) lasted just 4 2/3 innings giving up five earned runs on seven hits, walking three without recording a strikeout. Seven of the nine hitters in the Indians lineup had at least one hit, with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and first baseman Mark Reynolds as the only two players to go hitless in the game.
Second half win
Collapse? Forget about it.
Sure, the Indians should have won more than one game in the Twin Cities this weekend, but it's nice the team was able to snag a victory and end the series on a high note, hopefully taking the word "collapse" out of fans vocabulary.
Starting pitching has been an asset of the Tribe of late, as starters have posted a 1.89 ERA over their last 11 games. With just 64 games left, the Indians will almost certainly find themselves in middle of a pennant race till the final weeks of September.
With the win, Cleveland (52-46) remains just 1.5 games in back of Detroit for first place in the A.L. Central. The team also snapped a five-game losing streak at Target Field on Sunday, winning in the Twin Cities for the first time since Sept. 7, 2012.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will travel to the Emerald City to start a three game series with the struggling Seattle Mariners. Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4, 4.56 ERA) will matchup against right-hander Aaron Harang (4-8, 5.38 ERA) Monday night at 10:10 p.m. The Indians swept a four-game series with Seattle this season back on May 17-20.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
But Leyland had to get back to the Nursing Home to get tucked in!!