Player of the Game
Nick Swisher was absolutely terrible at the plate today, going 0-4 with three strike outs during regulation, but baseball always gives players a chance at redemption and Swisher took advantage of the biggest kind in the tenth inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, Swisher hit a line shot over the right field wall to give the Tribe a walk-off grand slam. Amazingly, it was his second game winning home run in a week, the other coming in the finale against Boston.
The Indians defense was on point today, helping out Justin Masterson immensely. Ryan Raburn turned a fairly incredible double play in the fourth on a sinking liner to right that he used to pick off Josh Hamilton at second base. Carlos Santana started a nifty double play of his own the next inning, grabbing a sharp grounder, tagging first then throwing the runner out at second. Possibly the best play of the day, Asdrubal Cabrera made a great diving stop in the hole between first and second, throwing out Raul Ibanez in the second.
Just when it looked like Justin Masterson done, going just two innings and giving up five runs in his last start, he came around and put out his best game since shutting out the Red Sox through seven on June 2nd. He went seven innings again today, keeping the Angels potent offense to a single run on four hits. Four strike outs and two double plays helped limit the damage as Masterson was a little wild early on, walking three, hitting one and throwing a wild pitch. He improved as the game went on, allowing just two base runners over his last three innings.
Bryan Shaw put the Indians in an awkward situation today, but Terry Francona went to the new closer, Cody Allen, in the eighth to make things right. After Marc Rzepczynski got the first two outs in the inning, Shaw came in to face Mike Trout. Being cautious, Shaw walked Trout, then gave up a single to Albert Pujols, giving the Angels two on with two outs. Allen was then brought in to face Josh Hamilton, who he struck out to end the inning. Allen stayed on to pitch the ninth and didn’t allow a base runner, striking out Collin Cowgill to end the inning. He has now pitched multiple innings in three of his last six appearances and hasn’t allowed a base runner in his last three.
Justin Masterson gave away another free run today, giving the Angels the early 1-0 lead in the second inning. After hitting Erick Aybar, Yan Gomes saved Masterson by catching him stealing, but Justin wasn’t done hurting himself. He then allowed a double to Howie Kendrick, a ground ball that moved him to third and a wild pitch to score him with two outs. Masterson went on to strike out the batter, three pitches too late to save the run.
The Indians continue to have trouble with runners in scoring position, a problem largely due to a lack of lineup depth. While Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall are currently hitting well, that isn’t enough. With Michael Brantley out, greater offensive pressure has been placed on Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn and they have not come through. Swisher has been particularly bad, striking out three times today, extending his K streak to six straight games, each since his return from the DL.
Scott Atchison wasn’t able to continue the success of the early Indians pitchers when he came on in the tenth. Atchison retired the first two, then allowed a single to Kole Calhoun and a double to Mike Trout. With runners on second and third, Atchison fell behind in the count against Albert Pujols, but instead of intentionally walking him after falling behind 3-1, he tried to get the former MVP and Pujols hit a single the other way, scoring both runs to break the tie.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 5 – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3
On Deck: The scuffling Tigers will come into town tomorrow as the two teams will fight for second in the AL Central. First game starts at 7:05 PM.