Masterson Six-Shutout Innings Starts West Coast Swing Right; Indians 6, Angels 2
By Mike Brandyberry
It would be tough to blame Indians’ fans for going to bed early after a pathetic performance Sunday afternoon. If they hit the sack dreaming of well pitched games and timely hitting by the Tribe, hopefully they set the DVR.
Dreams do come true.
Justin Masterson pitched his second straight ace-like effort, pitching seven strong innings and benefitted from three double plays to defeat C.J. Wilson and the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2 on Monday evening. The win against a southpaw is only their 14th win of the season and comes just a day after the Red Sox Jon Lester embarrassed the Tribe, striking out 12 in six innings.
Cleveland struck first in the third inning when Brent Lillibridge reached on an error by Howie Kendrick to lead off the inning. After Casey Kotchman grounded out and advanced Lillibridge to second base, Lou Marson walked. With both runners moving with the pitch, Jason Donald laced a base hit back up the middle to score Lillibridge from second. Asdrubal Cabrera would slap a single to right field to plate Marson and give the Indians a 2-0 lead in the middle of the third inning.
The Indians tacked on another run the following inning when Lillibridge hit his second home run as a Tribesman, giving them a 3-0 lead. Despite playing on three teams this season, both of his home runs have come since the Indians acquired him on July 24.
Wilson was knocked out of the game in the seventh inning when a Marson base hit headed for centerfield was knocked down by his pitching hand. Although he appeared to be ok, he was removed from the game pitching six and two-third innings, allowing six hits, three runs—two earned—while walking one and striking out five. LaTroy Hawkins retired Cabrera to end the inning and keep the Tribe ahead by only three.
Meanwhile Masterson cruised for six innings, much to the benefit of the double play ball. Three times he allowed the Angels’ leadoff man to reach base, and three times they were erased on a double play. He was effectively wild, often behind in the count but managing to retire hitters.
Masterson and the Indians found themselves in some trouble in the bottom of the seventh when Mark Trumbo and Alberto Callaspo each singled to start the inning. With no one out, Masterson’s night was ended in favor of Joe Smith who retired Kendrick on a fly ball to right field before striking out Erick Aybar and Chris Iannetta to end the inning, keep the Tribe with their three run lead intact.
With the book closed on Masterson, he would be credited with six innings, scattering six hits while striking out four and walking three on 99 pitches. It’s his second straight win and third in seven career starts against the Angels. He has a career 1.35 ERA against the Halos.
Vinnie Pestano made the game interesting in the eighth inning when Mike Trout led off with a base hit and an out later Albert Pujols crushed a two-run home run to cut the Tribe lead to 3-2. Pestano would retire the next two hitters to stop the bleeding. The two runs allowed by Pestano equaled the runs he’s allowed since May 14.
The Fiesty Featherheads picked up their normally reliable flame-throwing setup man by extending their lead in the ninth inning. Angels’ lefty Hasanori Takahashi allowed three straight singles to Ezequiel Carrera, Lillibridge and Kotchman before being sent to the showers. Jason Isringhausen would be left to pick up the pieces, but walked Marson to force in a run. Pinch-hitter Jason Kipnis hit a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield to score Lillibridge and. A wild pitch from Isringhausen allowed Kotchman to score and the Indians to tally their final run, making the score 6-2.
Esmil Rogers started the ninth inning but allowed back-to-back singles to Callaspo and Kendrick and was excused for closer Chris Perez. He struck out Aybar, Iannetta and Trout to slam the door, seal the win and earn his 32nd save of the season. Cleveland’s victory is their fifth win in seven games against Los Angeles. Masterson earned the win, improving to 9-10 on the season, while Wilson suffered the loss, dropping to 9-9.
The Indians will be back in late night action Wednesday evening when Ubaldo Jimenez (9-11, 5.25 ERA) will match up with newly acquired Angel starter Zack Greinke (0-1, 5.68 ERA). Greinke was acquired prior to the trade deadline from the Milwaukee Brewers. Game time slated to begin at 10:05 pm locally in Cleveland and can be seen on television on SportsTime Ohio and heard on the Indians Radio Network.
Photo: AP Photo/Reed Saxon