Masterson Splendid in Shutting Out Yankees; Indians 1, Yankees 0

A first inning solo home run off the bat of Jason Kipnis was the only run the Indians would score in Game 1 of their doubleheader with the New York Yankees. The one tally was the only score the Tribe would need as ace Justin Masterson carved up the visitors for a complete game shutout.

Masterson struck out nine Yankee hitters while walking just three en route to a 1-0 Indians win. Cleveland improved to 21-15 and is now a half game ahead of Detroit in the American League Central Division.

“Masty went out and did exactly what you want an ace to do,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “From the first batter on he had power, he had his breaking ball, he attacked hitters. There was no wiggle room because we had one run and he made it stand.”

The Indians, with a second game scheduled to start a half hour after the first, needed their ace to come up big and save the bullpen from potential wear and tear. That is especially true after having to send four relievers to the mound in Sunday’s extra-inning affair in Detroit.

“The idea is always to win the game,” Francona said. “In the back of your mind, you want to protect the bullpen. (Masterson) understood going into today how the game ended yesterday and all the guys we used. To pitch the way he did and as effective as he was, was impressive.”

Masterson showed his No. 1-starter numbers (6-2, 3.14 ERA) are no fluke. He was at 106 pitches through eight innings. When Francona sent Masterson out for the ninth inning, a boisterous crowd roared its approval. Masterson struck out Vernon Wells on his 118th and final pitch to secure his second 1-0 win of the season. It was Cleveland’s sixth pitched shutout as a team. Francona said he asked Masterson if his arm could handle the ninth on the high pitch count. After the confirmation from his ace, there was no question how to proceed.

“We’ve got the extra day with the day off (Thursday),” the Tribe skipper said. “He said he had plenty left in the tank.”

Even when the Yankees were able to get something going against the right-handed hurler, he was able to come back and shut them down. Twice New York had a runner reach second base. In the second, Masterson worked out of the jam by striking out Alberto Gonzalez. In the sixth, he induced former Indian designated hitter Travis Hafner into a threat-ending ground out.

Meanwhile, Yankee starter David Phelps was pitching almost as well. Phelps, a relief pitcher who makes spot starts, was just as good as Masterson other than early mistake to Kipnis.

Phelps struck out seven in 6 and 2/3 innings. The main reason he was unable to stick around longer was a patient Tribe lineup that worked six walks off of him. Cleveland collected four hits off the Yankees starter and five, overall.

Asdrubal Cabrera and Drew Stubbs each doubled to give Cleveland three extra-base hits on the afternoon. Much like Masterson, Phelps also was able to work out of trouble. The Indians had Carlos Santana on third in the second and fourth innings. Cabrera was on second to end the third. Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs were at second and third when the seventh frame innings. If not for Masterson’s brilliance, the missed chances could have really come back haunt the Tribe.

Cleveland’s offense will look to take care of business a little better in Game 2 of the double header of makeup games from a pair of April rain outs. The Tribe will face Vidal Nuno, making his first Major League start. Rookie Trevor Bauer will start his third game ever for the Indians.

Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo

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