Player of the Game
Justin Masterson was dominant again and struck out 10 batters in seven innings. He allowed just two singles during his time in the game and a single run. It is his team leading 7th Player of the Game (tied with Jason Kipnis), but just his first since May 19th.
The Indians were able to take advantage of off days and move Justin Masterson up a spot in the rotation for the fourth time this year. This has allowed him to make 16 starts, three more than Ubaldo Jimenez and four more than Scott Kazmir and Corey Kluber. With less than four dependable men in the starting rotation, throwing Masterson as often as possible is the best thing the Indians can do to win.
There is something to be said about playing the numbers and it worked for Terry Francona tonight. Coming into the game, Gio Gonzalez had shut out the Indians for almost 20 straight innings, but one new signing, Ryan Raburn had seen a lot of success against the Nationals starter. Francona batted Raburn clean up tonight for the second time this season and in the fourth inning, he came through with a solo home run to break Gonzalez's shut out streak.
As expected, we had ourselves a pitching duel tonight and both starters came armed and ready. Masterson lead the way with 10 strike outs in seven innings, but Gonzalez was close behind with eight of his own in the same span. All the strike outs lead to high pitch counts for each starter, but their managers were willing to push things with each pitcher throwing well over 110 pitches before they were done. The biggest disappointment was that neither starter factored in the decision, despite allowing just a single run a piece.
A timely hit and run in the ninth inning gave Michael Bourn his first hit of the night with the second baseman covering. On the hit Drew Stubbs was able to take third, representing the winning run. He scored during the next at bat to give the Indians a walk off win.
The Nationals have had a hard time scoring runs all season, but the Indians just gave them one in the third. Masterson walked two batters and allowed a single up the middle to load the bases, following which he uncorked a crazy slider that barely glanced off Carlos Santana's glove to score the run. The matter could have been taken care of earlier as Masterson had Roger Bernadina (he of the .192 average) down 0-2, but ending up walking him.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 2 – Washington Nationals 1