Masterson Dominates and Hafner Homers to Give Tribe Win to Open Second Half; Indians 1, Blue Jays 0
By Evan Matsumoto
The consistency of the Indians’ starting rotation in July continued tonight as Justin Masterson picked up his sixth win of the season, improving to 6-8, despite receiving only one run in support.
Coming off a 10-3 beating by Tampa Bay, Masterson came into Friday night’s game on an extended six-days’ rest with a 4.40 ERA.
“Masterson was outstanding tonight so that was great to see. Vinnie (Pestano) and (Chris Perez) were great at the end. (The pitching) was outstanding. Hopefully this sets the tone for the second half,” Travis Hafner said.
Hafner’s eighth home run of the season put the Tribe on top 1-0 in the second inning.
“I hit it good. Fortunately it had enough to get out. (Romero) was pretty much throwing cutters away and curveballs. That was the best one I had to hit and fortunately I hit it,” Hafner said.
The blast to right field was followed by singles from both Michael Brantley and Johnny Damon. Jack Hannahan was caught waving at a 95 mile-per-hour fastball for strike three to end the inning, leaving Brantley and Damon stranded.
Carlos Santana drew the first walk of the game in the top of the fourth and was pushed to third on a Brantley double, his second hit of the game. Lou Marson struck out swinging for out number two and Damon grounded out to end the inning, the second time the Tribe stranded two runners.
Cleveland fell in order in the top of the fifth—the Indians also went down 1-2-3 in the first and the third.
The Blue Jays did not have more than one hit in any inning through the first six and helped Masterson by grounding into a double play in the bottom of the second and third innings.
There were only two multi-hit innings in the game, the top of the second and the top of the sixth, both belonging the Indians.
Masterson threw seven innings of shutout ball on 103 pitches, allowed five hits, walked one batter and struck out five of his own. Vinnie Pestano relieved Masterson in the eighth inning. Pestano got one Blue Jay to fly out to right and got two more Jays to strike out before handing the ball off to Chris Perez.
Perez made quick work of the Blue Jays in the ninth as he recorded his 25th save in 27 attempts, finishing the game with a strikeout against Edwin Encarnacion.
Cleveland increased its record on the road to 21-20 on the season. Last season, the Tribe was four games under .500 on the road at the All-Star break. They are third in the American League in runs scored on the road (4.8) and fifth in the majors.
Cleveland is undefeated (16-0) when leading after six innings.
Photo: Brad White/Getty Images