The Indians handed Justin Masterson the ball and he never gave it back.
Masterson pitched a four-hitter for his second shutout this season, leading Cleveland over the New York Yankees 1-0 in the first game of a traditional doubleheader on Monday.
Masterson (6-2) overpowered baseball’s hottest team for his third career shutout. He also had one against the Chicago White Sox on April 12. The right-hander is the first Cleveland pitcher to record two complete-game shutouts in the same season since Bud Black and Greg Swindell in 1989.
”Masty went out and did exactly what you want your ace to do,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. ”From the very first pitch of the game he had power, he had a breaking ball, he attacked hitters.”
Jason Kipnis homered in the first inning off David Phelps (1-2) as the Indians ended the Yankees’ winning streak at five. New York came in a major-league best 22-9 since April 7.
Masterson had little trouble with a New York lineup lacking injured stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. He retired the side in order four times, struck out nine and was backed by solid and sometimes stellar defense.
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera took a hit away from Ichiro Suzuki in the first with a barehanded throw, and he prevented a run from scoring in the second with a diving stop behind second on Chris Stewart’s grounder.
”There was no wiggle room because we had one run,” Francona said, ”and he made it stand. I get a big kick out of watching him because he enjoys pitching.”
Francona got Indians closer Chris Perez up in the ninth to be ready in case Masterson couldn’t finish. There was no need for the bullpen.
Masterson retired Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner before Brennan Boesch singled with two outs – New York’s only hit to reach the outfield. But Masterson fanned pinch-hitter Vernon Wells for the final out as New York fell to 7-2 in one-run games.
”We ran into a guy who was really on his game,” Phelps said. ”You kind of have to tip your cap to him.”
Cleveland, which moved into a tie atop the AL Central by winning two of three at Detroit last weekend, has won 13 of 15 and is 16-5 since April 20.
The teams played the one-admission doubleheader because of consecutive rainouts last month. The Yankees stopped in Cleveland on their way back from Kansas City, while the Indians returned home for one day from a trip to Detroit and Philadelphia.
Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer was to start the second game against left-hander Vidal Nuno, slated to make his major league start.
The Yankees would have preferred a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame than an afternoon against Masterson, who allowed two infield singles in the second and a bunt in the sixth before Boesch finally grounded a ball into the outfield in the ninth. Masterson has won four of his past five decisions against New York.
New York’s best scoring threat came in the second when the Yankees loaded the bases on a pair of two-out infield singles sandwiched around a walk. But Masterson struck out No. 9 hitter Alberto Gonzalez.
Masterson credited his defense, and said he didn’t take any extra satisfaction by beating the Yankees or posting the one-run shutout.
”It’s really just being able to win the game, whether it’s 1-0, 1,500 to zero, it doesn’t matter,” Masterson said. ”Guys were making great plays, that’s what pumps you up as the game goes on. We’re all in it together.”
Kipnis put the Indians ahead in the first with his fifth homer, a 414-foot shot into the right-field seats. It could have been a two-run homer, but Michael Bourn was called out at second trying to steal. TV replays appeared to show Bourn got his foot in ahead of the tag, and he and Francona argued with second-base ump Brian Knight.
All five of Kipnis’ homers have come in the first inning.
Other than that, Phelps settled in and held the Indians to four hits. He was replaced in the eighth after giving up a double and walk. Boone Logan threw a wild pitch but struck out Kipnis.
NOTES: Cano came in 8 for 19 in his career against Masterson, but went 0 for 4 with a strikeout. … The Indians optioned struggling 3B Lonnie Chisenhall to Triple-A Columbus. Chisenhall, who was given the everyday starting job in training camp, was batting .213 with three homers and 11 RBIs. … Indians RHP Vinnie Pestano, on the DL with right elbow tendinitis, was to throw 15 to 20 pitches off a bullpen mound. Barring any setbacks, Pestano will go on a rehab assignment Wednesday and be activated Friday when the Indians open a four-game series with Seattle. … Making his final visit to Cleveland, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was presented with a framed gold record album from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. … Yankees INF Kevin Youkilis (lumbar spine sprain) has resumed limited on-field work, playing catch and fielding grounders on the grass in front of the infield dirt at third base. … Rodriguez, coming back from hip surgery, continued hitting drills in an indoor cage and jogged as he started his second week of workouts at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla. Teixeira (right wrist) continued taking batting practice and running the bases. RHP Ivan Nova, who experienced soreness in his ribs while playing toss on Sunday, said he will not throw for at least a couple days.