Swisher's clutch hit gives Indians, Masterson walkoff win
CLEVELAND - There are two words that describe Friday night’s walk-off victory according to Tribe first baseman Nick Swisher: “Awesome, Amazingness.”
After rain shutout the Indians for two consecutive nights, it was Cleveland that would have a shutout of their own on Friday as they edged out their division rival Chicago White Sox, 1-0.
To get their only run of the ballgame, the Tribe gave the White Sox a taste of some Progressive Field magic as Swisher sent a two out game-winning single down the right field line to seal the ninth inning victory.
Cleveland starter Justin Masterson was completely dominant throughout the contest, throwing a five hit complete game shutout as the Indians ace picked up his third win on the young season.
“I felt good out there,” Masterson said. “We had great defense out there behind me and that’s always nice to have.”
The ballgame featured a seesaw scoreless battle between the Tribe right-hander and White Sox starter Jose Quintana. The Chicago southpaw almost matched Masterson pitch for pitch throughout the night, limiting Indians hitters to just one hit through seven innings.
With the game deadlocked in a scoreless tie in the top half of the ninth, Tribe manager Terry Francona stuck with his ace for the final fame and he delivered.
“I wanted to go out there and save the bullpen,” Masterson said. “I was just trying to stay under control in that situation for our guys to win it.”
Masterson allowed just five hits on the night, walking one and striking out seven. Without yielding a run in the game, the Indians right-hander has thrown a career-high 19 scoreless innings over his first three starts.
“I just thought he deserved to pitch there,” Francona said. “Everyone knows we have confidence in our bullpen, but we had a lot of confidence in Justin there to get the job done.”
To give Masterson his third win, he needed a quiet Tribe offense to come through when it mattered most. Indians bats looked as cold as the weather for most of the game against Quintana, but the Tribe bats stormed back and suddenly came to life in the ninth inning when Chicago went to their bullpen.
Centerfielder Michael Bourn laced a one out double down the left field line to get the late inning heroics started against White Sox reliever Jesse Crain. After shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out, second baseman Jason Kipnis worked the count in his favor for a pivotal two out walk. Crain would deliever just one more pitch, as Swisher came through on the first pitch in his at-bat for the game-winning hit.
Shying from being the night’s hero, Swisher said his two stars of the game were Masterson and Kipnis.
“I’m so proud of Kipnis because in a situation like that he really showed a lot of maturity in that at-bat,” Swisher said.
With the walk-off single, the Indians first baseman also extended his Progressive Field hitting streak to 19 straight games.
“On a cold night, you’re really not trying to do too much,” Swisher said. “I was able to get a fastball over the plate to hit. It would have been a shame for us not to go out there and give Masty that win.”
For Francona, he will take a win anyway his players can get them.
“I didn’t care where that ball landed,” Francona said. “As long as it landed fair I didn’t care where it went.”
“However we win is good, as long as we’re shaking hands and playing music after. It was just a great win.”
The Indians will look to make it two straight on Saturday afternoon in the second game of the three-game series. Zach McAllister (0-1, 3.00 ERA) will take the ball for the Wahoo’s against White Sox hard throwing lefty Chris Sale (1-0, 1.84 ERA).
Notes: Prior to the game, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco received an eight game suspension for intentionally throwing at Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis on Tuesday. In order to serve the suspension, Carrasco must be on the active MLB roster.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Good game recap Jim!