Roster Update: Prior to today's game, last night's starter, Trevor Bauer was sent back down to AAA Columbus. He was not going to pitch another game this time around for the Indians, so sending him down now limits his days on the active roster to one, keeping him under Indians control for a longer time. In related news, Carlos Carrasco's suspension ended last night after it was reduced to five games from six. He is eligible to play at any point, but isn't scheduled to start until Tuesday. The Indians roster currently stands at 24 and with Lou Marson day-to-day, it is essentially 23. It is strange that the Indians didn't recall either Yan Gomes or Chun Chen as a reserve catcher for the next few days until Jason Giambi is added to the roster on Tuesday.
Player of the Game
What a difference a day makes. Last night, Nick Swisher took the Player of the Game with a score of 0.41. Today, everyone who played, except Swisher, beat that score. There were really only three players competing for today's award when all was said and done and Mark Reynolds beat out all comers. In five at bats, walked, hit a double and mashed two home runs. His 4 RBI and 3 runs scored helped him to a POG score of 10.26. Justin Masterson threw 7 innings (the most by any Indians starter this year) of shut out baseball, striking out eight and earning the win, but finished with a POG score of just 9.44. His score was the second best of any Indians player this year, but wasn't good enough for the award today. Carlos Santana came in third with the third highest score of the year, 9.33 with his personal record five hit game.
It took six games, but Michael Bourn stole his first base as an Indian, taking third in the first inning after doubling off David Price. Bourn got a great jump and stole the base without a throw. Bourn also hit his first home run as an Indian late in the game, although he is not expected to that as often.
Mark Reynolds has done exactly what the Indians signed him to do as he hit his third home run of the season today against Cy Young pitcher, David Price. The three run shot went out to straight center, 404 feet from home plate. Later, in the top of the seventh, Reynolds hit his fourth home run of the year off Kyle Farnsworth, the first hit and run given up by Farnsworth this year. His four home runs would be more impressive had Will Middlebrooks not hit three today alone.
The offense as a whole was on fire today, making the last two shut outs look like a mockery. Carlos Santana was in the thick of everything today as he went 5-5 with two doubles and a home run, raising his batting average to .500 on the year. In addition to his and Reynolds' great games, Lonnie Chisenhall hit his first home run of the year, a three run shot in the fifth inning. Overall, four different batters scored twice including both reserve players who started today, Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn. Every batter (except Nick Swisher) reached base at least once and six batters had multi-hit days.
Justin Masterson had great results in his Opening Day start, recording a win in six innings against Toronto, but he looked much more dominant today against the Rays. He did a much better job throwing his fastball for strikes and he was getting a huge break on his slider. In this game he threw one more inning, struck out three more batters and most importantly, walked one less. He also had less hitters counts, leading to fewer hits and one less run scored.
Almost as impressive as scoring 8 runs off Price, the Indians scored their final two runs against last year's top closer, Fernando Rodney. Reynolds hit a double in his last at bat and Santana followed with his fifth hit and second home run of the year. Chisenhall ended Rodney's day with another extra base hit into the left field gap.
The Indians were not just the only team to face both of the previous years Cy Young Award winners in the first week of the season, they were the first team to beat both of those pitchers.
I brought it up many times last year and will say it again. If a player is not good enough to be in the starting lineup, he can't be good enough to bat third when he does play. Today, Ryan Raburn started in left field in an effort to get an extra right handed bat in the lineup and batted in Jason Kipnis' normal three hole. Raburn probably shouldn't have made the team at all, and definitely shouldn't be batting in the top half of the lineup.
Even though it was not necessary for the win, it would have been nice to see Justin Masterson get a chance to pitch a complete game. Complete game shut outs are almost non-existent for the Tribe now, despite a long history full of them. Even chances are rare, so when a starter gets through the 7th inning without allowing a run, he needs to take advantage of it.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 13 – Tampa Bay Rays 0