Indians 2, Pirates 0
The Indians can’t score for Justin Masterson, who gets less run
support than any other starter in the AL.
He’s found a way to deal with it.
”I’ve got to make sure no one scores,” he said. ”That’s your
job as the pitcher.”
Masterson pitched seven effective innings, working out of jams
three times, and Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak with
a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Masterson (3-6) allowed four hits, struck out nine and ended his
own three-game slide. He wriggled out of threats in the fourth,
sixth and seventh innings, and got a huge defensive play from
second baseman Jason Kipnis in the sixth.
Vinnie Pestano worked the eighth and Chris Perez pitched the
ninth for his major league-leading 21st save as the Indians bounced
back after being swept in a series at Cincinnati. Perez, who always
seems to make it interesting, gave up a leadoff single before
getting a fly ball and game-ending double play.
Carlos Santana hit an RBI double in the third off James McDonald
(5-3) and Michael Brantley extended baseball’s longest hitting
streak this season to 22 games with a run-scoring single in the
”What streak?” Brantley said, afraid to jinx himself.
The Pirates have lost four straight and were shut out for the
sixth time this season.
Masterson hadn’t won since May 24, when he beat reigning AL MVP
and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander 2-1. Masterson had
dropped his previous three outings despite pitching well in two of
them. He lost 2-0 in St. Louis in his last start, when he gave up
one run in seven innings.
The right-hander had the Pirates flailing at a wicked slider
that slid across the plate and out of the strike zone. During one
stretch from the second through fourth innings, he recorded seven
consecutive outs with strikeouts.
”He was terrific,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. ”He had
the best slider I’ve seen this year.”
For whatever reason, the Indians’ offense struggles when
Masterson is on the mound. He has received two or fewer runs in
eight straight starts and 11 of 14 this season.
”Trust me, the offense is very well aware of that as I’m sure
he is too,” Kipnis said. ”We want to give him all the runs that
he deserves. But after that series we just had in Cincinnati, for
him to come out and give us that kind of start was
Masterson got into trouble in the fourth when the Pirates loaded
the bases on a pair of walks and a single. But the 6-foot-6
Masterson struck out Jose Tabata on one of those filthy sliders to
end the threat.
In the sixth, he gave up a leadoff ground-rule double to Neil
Walker, who advanced to third on Andrew McCutchen’s groundout.
Garrett Jones hit a soft fly to shallow right that Kipnis ran down
with an over-the-shoulder catch. He then spun around and fired a
one-hop throw to the plate to keep Walker at third.
Masterson retired Casey McGehee on a grounder to Kipnis to end
”It was a phenomenal play,” Brantley said of Kipnis’ effort.
”That was a big momentum shift right there.”
Danger loomed again in the seventh, and this time by Masterson’s
own wildness. He allowed a one-out walk, hit a batter with two outs
and threw a wild pitch. But with runners at second and third, he
got Alex Presley on a lazy fly to left and walked to the dugout to
a thundering ovation from the Progressive Field crowd.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said his young hitters tried to do
too much against Masterson, expanding the strike zone when they had
him on the ropes.
”Who’s in trouble there?” he said. ”We need to have a better
understanding and awareness when we’re in the (batter’s) box. We
worked outside our comfort zone. It is like, `I’ve got a chance to
be a hero here.’ It has to be that you can be the guy if you get a
good pitch and then hit it.”
McDonald was nearly as good as Masterson, allowing one run and
three hits in six innings, but lost for just the second time in his
last seven decisions.
The Indians used a little luck to take a 1-0 lead in the third
on Santana’s perfectly placed double.
Asdrubal Cabrera walked with one out, and with two down, he
broke for second on a 3-2 pitch that Santana sliced down the
third-base line, the ball barely skipping inside the bag and
curling toward the tarp. Cabrera never slowed and scored without a
throw as Santana scampered into second.
Brantley’s single in the eighth off Juan Cruz made it 2-0.
Brantley’s hitting streak is the majors’ longest since Atlanta’s
Dan Uggla hit in 33 in a row last season.
NOTES: Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton is leaving Saturday
morning to see his son, Nick, play for Kent State in the College
World Series in Omaha, Neb. Hamilton, who has been the team’s
”voice” for 23 seasons, said the Indians ”just told me to go”
and he’ll stay with the Golden Flashes ”as long as they’re in
it.” Kent State plays Arkansas in its opener. … The Indians
signed OF Tyler Naquin and RHP Mitch Brown, their respective first-
and second-round picks in this month’s draft. … Hurdle gave
Indians RHP Ubaldo Jimenez a warm hug during batting practice.
Hurdle was Jimenez’s manager in Colorado from 2006-09. … McDonald
also has had poor run support. The Pirates have scored one or no
runs in seven of his starts. He’s 0-3 with a 2.06 ERA in those
games. … Pittsburgh is 3-19 in AL ballparks the last three