Masterson Masterful In Win Over Yankees; Indians 5, Yankees 3
The two storylines headed into the rubber match of this three game series with the New York Yankees were Derek Jeter‘s pursuit of his 3,000th career hit and Phil Hughes coming off the DL to make his first start since April 13th, but Justin Masterson stole the show by throwing eight scoreless innings in the Cleveland Indians 5-3 win over the Yankees.
Despite rumors that Asdrubal Cabrera would be sitting out this game after tweaking his ankle in last night’s 9-2 loss, the All-Star was in the lineup playing second base and singled in his first at bat after Michael Brantley drew a leadoff walk. Travis Hafner followed Cabrera’s one-bagger with a hit of his own to score Brantley. Cabrera then came around to score on a wild pitch and fielding error by Yankees catcher Russell Martin, giving the Tribe an early 2-0 lead.
New York threatened to score in the second with two on and one out, but Matt LaPorta made two very nice plays at first base to keep the Yankees off the board.
In the fourth inning, Masterson struck out the side and got some help in the fifth from Grady Sizemore, who leaped the wall in right center field to rob Ohio State alum Nick Swisher of an extra base hit.
Hughes calmed down after a rocky first inning and put together four scoreless innings on four hits before handing the ball to Luis Ayala to start the sixth inning.
Austin Kearns, whose bat continues to show signs of life, welcomed Ayala to the game with a leadoff single, then moved to third on a playbook hit and run single by Brantley that squeaked past Robinson Cano‘s glove in shallow right. With one out, Brantley stole second, ending Ayala’s prayer for a double play, and triggering Manager Joe Girardi to bring in his bullpen’s lone lefty, Boone Logan to face Hafner. But that plan backfired fast when Boone plunked Pronk on the first pitch, loading the bases for Carlos Santana. Santana hit a hot shot to third that was handled by a diving Alex Rodriguez and thrown to first for the out, keeping the score 2-0.
In the seventh inning, rookie Lonnie Chisenhall‘s first big league home run, a solo shot to deep right center, made it 3-0 and ended Ayala’s night. Sergio Mitre replaced him and his fortune would not be much better.
Jeter doubled with one out in the eighth inning, putting him just three hits shy of 3,000 for his career, but was unable to score thanks to the sure glove of Asdrubal Cabrera, who handled back-to-back lasers off the bats of Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira.
In the bottom half of the eighth inning, Santana drew a bases loaded walk from Mitre and Sizemore followed with a sacrifice fly to score Brantley and give the Indians some cushion going into the ninth inning, 5-0.
Masterson, who had excellent control of his sinker and four-seam fastball all night, gave up three hits over eight scoreless innings and struck out six before giving the ball to Vinnie Pestano to start the ninth. It wasn’t Pestano’s night, who gave up hits to all three batters he faced and was charged with three earned runs before being bailed out by All-Star reliever Chris Perez, who earned his 21st save of the season as the Indians held on for a 5-3 win over the Yankees. Masterson improved to 7-6 and lowered his season ERA to 2.66.
The win keeps the Tribe’s lead over the Detroit Tigers in the Central Division at 1.5 games.