Player of the Game
While his early season numbers have not been particularly impressive (of course he has played in two weeks less games than the rest of the team), Michael Bourn has been getting his job done and is slowly heating up. Tonight, he lead the game off with a single, the fourth time in seven games that he has gotten on base to start a game. In his second at bat, he improved upon that with a two out, two RBI triple to tie the game. This was his first extra base hit of the year and his second and third RBI. Bourn added another single in the seventh to bring his average up to .267, but was caught stealing for the second time in the game. His final POG score was 3.53.
While not quite the ace-like appearance, Justin Masterson did give the Indians bullpen a little respite. Terry Francona has went to his bullpen 11 times in the past three games and with a seven man pen, things were starting to get stretched out. Masterson’s slider was his best pitch of the night and he used it to perfection. In the game, he struck out six and walked just two, allowing eight hits in 6.1 innings. It was his second straight start with 6.1 innings pitched.
Michael Brantley has been the Indians top offensive performer this season, but it was still unexpected when, in the sixth inning, he manufactured a run by himself. After reaching base with a one out single, Brantley remained on first after an Asdrubal Cabrera fly out. He then took matters into his own hands, stealing second, going to third on an overthrow and going home when Jarrod Dyson overran the ball. Yan Gomes ended up grounding out to end the inning, so if it weren’t for Brantley’s aggressiveness, the Indians would not have tied the game in the sixth.
The Indians used some more two out offense to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh, despite Bourn getting caught stealing for the second out. With a full count, Nick Swisher pounded a ball to right that almost bounced over the head of Nori Aoki, giving him a single. After, Jason Kipnis worked a 2-2 count before also hitting a ball into the right field gap. Kipnis’ hit got through and because there were two outs, Swisher was able to score all the way from first to give the Tribe the lead.
One of the big reasons the Indians batted so well against left handers in 2013 was the surprising season of Ryan Raburn, who hit .308 with seven home runs in 107 at bats against south paws. This season, the Indians looked to take advantage of this by platooning him with David Murphy, who has historically had a bad time against lefties. This hasn’t worked out quite as planned, however, as Raburn is nowhere near where he was last year, batting just .185 vs LHP after going 0-3 tonight against Jason Vargas. Murphy, on the other hand, is batting a slightly better .211 and with the upside of power that the Indians get from him, it wouldn’t be surprising to this platoon to start shifting even more in Murphy’s direction.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 5 – Royals 3
Circling the Central: The White Sox helped out the Indians by coming back against Detroit 6-4. With the loss, the Tigers move to 10-8, just 1.5 games ahead of the last place Indians. Every team in the AL Central now has at least 10 wins and the three teams tied for second are all at .500.
On Deck: The Royals will put another lefty on the mound tomorrow, as Corey Kluber looks for the series win against Bruce Chen at 12:05 PM.