Tribe Beats Up Bullpen For Comeback Win; Indians 3, Angels 2
By Mike Brandyberry
You can lose some battles if you are able to win the war. While the Indians struggled to score early, they were able to run Jered Weaver from the game early enough to take advantage of a weak Angel bullpen and come back to win, 3-2.
Justin Masterson stepped forward and matched Weaver pitch for pitch on the evening to keep them in position to come from behind late and win the game in the ninth.
“It was a very nice ballgame to win,” manager Manny Acta said. “Masterson did what he was supposed to do when you face Jered Weaver. He had very good sink and had them beating the ball in the ground all night.”
The Angels struck in the top of the first inning with two out when Albert Pujols singled and moved to second on a wild pitch by Masterson. After Kendrys Morales walked, Torii Hunter singled to right, scoring Pujols and giving the Angels an early 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Indians battled all evening to plate a run against Weaver, yet could not get the big hit. The closest the Tribe came was in the bottom of the third. With two out, Asdrubal Cabrera singled and Travis Hafner walked before Carlos Santana laced a base hit to right field. However, Hunter made a perfect throw to home plate to throw out Cabrera to end the inning and keep the Angel lead in tact.
In the top of the fourth inning Hunter would continue is early attack of the Tribe when he hit a solo home run to right field. Masterson only allowed four hits to the Angels for the evening, but two were to the veteran right fielder.
The Tribe was unable to score off Weaver, but they did force the ace to work hard. Weaver did not have his best stuff, walking four. The Tribe had runners on base in five of the six innings, but could not plate a run. Indian hitters did make Weaver work, forcing him to throw 115 pitches, and send him to an earlier exit than his liking.
“The key to the game was all those quality at bats against Weaver,” Acta said. “We got his pitch count up and we were able to get him out of the game.”
With Weaver gone after six innings the Indians were able to take advantage of a shaky Angel bullpen in the seventh. Left hander, Hasanori Takahashi entered and was immediately greeted by a base hit from Casey Kotchman. Aaron Cunningham moved Kotchman to second before Michael Brantley laced a double to deep centerfield to score Kotchman. Kevin Jepsen relieved Takahashi, but immediately gave up a game-tying base hit to Jason Kipnis. The single to left scored Brantley and tied the game at two.
Masterson worked eight and one-third innings, allowing four hits, two runs and striking out five. After walking Morales and retiring Hunter, Masterson walked Peter Bourjos to put Angels on first and second with one out. Vinnie Pestano relieved Masterson and promptly struck out Vernon Wells and Erick Aybar to end the top of the ninth. Masterson pitched every part of the role of ace after struggling in his last two starts.
The Indians earned their first walkoff victory of the season in the ninth inning. Right hander, Dan Carpenter entered for the Angels and allowed Aaron Cunningham to double high off the left field to start the ninth. Brantley could not sacrifice bunt and flew out to center field before Kipnis singled to left to put runners on the corners. Cabrera jumped on second pitch of the at bat and roped a line drive down the left field line past a drawn in infield to give the Tribe a 3-2 victory.
The key to the game was the patience and persistence the Tribe showed against Weaver in the first six innings. While they didn’t score, they drew walks, created scoring opportunities and got the Angel ace out of the game quickly. The Tribe rapped out 15 hits in the game.
Once forced to go to the bullpen, the Angels struggled to hold the Indian bats in check. When the Angels took Takahashi out of the game, the only left hander in the Angel bullpen was newly named closer, Scott Downs. The loss drops the Angels to 6-14 on the season, a terrible start for team with so much promise coming in to the season.
Saturday, Jeanmar Gomez (1-0, 1.93 ERA) will take the mound against the Angels Dan Haren (0-1, 4.93). Haren is another pitcher who can be dominant at times. The Indians will have to approach Saturday with the same patience and hopes to take advantage of the Angels bullpen as they did Friday evening. Game time is slated for 1:05 pm and can be seen on FOX.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images