Masterson and Choo Help Shut Down O’s, Avoid Sweep; Indians 3, Orioles 1
By Dave Roberts
The final game of the Indians and Orioles series was a big one for the Tribe as they just dropped below.500 the previous night for the first time since April 11. They sent Justin Masterson to the mound against Tommy Hunter in an attempt to stop their losing streak at four. What resulted at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario was a classic pitcher’s duel but thankfully Masterson was had a leg up and Choo hit the ball when it really counted.
Justin Masterson took the mound with hopes of turning it around after his shaky start in Tampa and he did just that. Over 7.1 innings, Masterson allowed just one run on seven hits while striking out six and walking just one. Masterson benefited from solid defense including double plays in the fourth and seventh innings. The one blemish that marked Masterson’s otherwise dominant performance was the Omar Quintanilla double that scored Ryan Flaherty from first in the fifth.
It appeared as if Masterson might go the distance after he got the first out in the eighth but after allowing a single to Nick Markakis, Indians manager Manny Acta decided to go to the bullpen in favor of Vinnie Pestano. For Pestano it was unfamiliar territory entering an inning currently in progress as he allowed a double to the first batter he faced. Thankfully, Markakis ran through a stop sign at third only to pull up just past the bag before being caught in a rundown. After the gift out following that base running miscue, Pestano gathered himself together and then struck out Chris Davis to end the inning. Of course, Tribe closer Chris Perez came on in the ninth and set down the O’s in order to lock in his 27th save and help the Indians reach .500 again.
On the offensive side of things, Hunter virtually matched Masterson’s performance tossing seven innings allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out four and walking none. His one big mistake came in the third inning when after a Casey Kotchman single, Shin-Soo Choo stepped up to the plate and socked a two-run home run to right field putting the Tribe up 2-0.
That home run would be all the Indians needed for a victory on a night they received superb pitching but in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and nobody out Michael Brantley singled off Troy Patton, who had come on in the eighth to relieve Hunter, to score Choo giving the Tribe an insurance run at 3-1.
“Masterson did a tremendous job,” Acta said after the game. “He did what a number one starter is supposed to do, shut down the opponent and give the team a chance to win even when they’re not scoring runs.” The victory most definitely felt just as good for Masterson as it did for Acta and the rest of the Indians team as it will hopefully give them the motivation to go forward and play their best baseball of the season in a time that requires just that.
Tomorrow night the Cleveland Indians (48-48) send Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9, 5.24) against Doug Fister (4-6, 4.04) and the first place Detroit Tigers at 7:05pm start for the first of a three game series in Cleveland.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak