Tribe All Smiles in Second Straight Road Win; Indians 3, Rangers 2
Mike B. | On 08, Jun 2014
Don’t look now, but it appears many of the Indians woes are solving themselves.
Just three weeks ago the Indians were 10.5 games back of first place and seemingly destined for a disappointing summer, filled with road woes, a struggling ace pitcher and power hitter. But three weeks later, the tides have turned on the Indians season. Sunday was a fine example of how things can change fast in the long, big league season.
The Indians defeated the Texas Rangers 3-2, taking their second of three games in the series as they begin to squash their trouble on the road. Staff ace Justin Masterson pitched his second straight, strong outing to earn the win and Carlos Santana and Ryan Raburn continued to dig out of their early season slumps.
Masterson, and Rangers starter Joe Saunders, locked up in an early pitcher’s duel in the Sunday, Texas sun. Neither team mustered a run until Texas squeaked a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out in the inning, Adrian Beltre reached on an infield single and Alex Rios singled to left field before Chris Gimenez walked to load the bases. Leonys Martin grounded to Santana, playing first, who threw home for the force out. It appeared as if the Indians and Masterson would avoid damage when the Tribe’s hurler uncorked a wild pitch. Rios raced home and the Rangers led, 1-0 after four frames.
But Cleveland quickly found their own bases loaded opportunity in the top of the fifth inning. Lonnie Chisenhall started the inning with a single off the southpaw Saunders. After Raburn grounded out, David Murphy singled and Michael Bourn walked to load the sacks for Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera singled to center field, chasing home Chisenhall and tying the game at one run apiece. Cleveland had a chance to tally more, but Michael Brantley grounded into a fielder’s choice as they threw the lead runner out at home and Jason Kipnis grounded to second to leave the game scoreless.
In the top of the sixth inning the Indians added all the offense they’d need for the game when they scored a pair more. With one out in the sixth, Yan Gomes walked before Lonnie Chisenhall singled for his second hit of the game. With runners at first and second base, the Rangers went to reliever Scott Tolleson to matchup against the right-handed Raburn. He made them pay, however, with a single to center field. Gomes scored and both Chisenhall and Raburn advanced to scoring position on Martin’s wild throw from center field. Murphy followed with a sacrifice fly to center and the Indians led 3-1 in the middle of the sixth.
It was all the offense the Masterson and the Indians’ bullpen would need. Masterson allowed a one-out double to Beltre and triple to Rios to cut the lead to 3-2. After he got Gimenez to ground out to first base, holding the tying run at third, he gave way to Marc Rzepczynski—who promptly got Martin to ground to second base and keep the Tribe in the lead.
Masterson (4-4) pitched five and two-third innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out six. The husky right-hander strung together his second straight start, tossing 103 pitches in the southern heat. Bryan Shaw took over for Rzepczynski in the seventh inning and pitched two scoreless innings before Cody Allen earned his sixth save of the season in the ninth. Allen pitched a three-up, three-down ninth, including two strikeouts.
Saunders (0-2) pitched five and one-third innings, allowing three runs—two earned—on seven hits and four walks.
Cleveland, worst on the road in Major League Baseball through 60 games, won their second of three in the four game series. The pounded out 10 hits in the game, including a pair from Chisenhall and Murphy, a pair of left-handed hitters against the portsider Saunders. Santana had a hit for the third straight game since coming off the disabled list and a walk, reaching base safely twice.
Elvis Andrus was 0-for-4 in the game, snapping his 39-game hit streak against the Indians. It is the second longest hit streak on record against a single team. Andrus had a hit against the Tribe in every game of his career until Sunday.
The Tribe finds themselves just 3.5 games back of the Central Division leading Detroit Tigers. Cleveland can gain or lose a half game in the standings Sunday night as the Tigers take on the Boston Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball.
Monday, the Indians will try to win the four game series with rookie, left-hander T.J. House (0-1, 3.79) on the mound and looking for his first big league win. House has pitched well in his last two starts, despite not earning a victory. Texas will counter with right-hander Nick Martinez (1-2, 3.22) from Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Photo: Brandon Wade/AP Photo