There were times during this nine-game losing streak that it felt like it would never end. Fortunately, it did end, and it ended against a team that's always a lot of fun to beat. No matter the standings, it's always awesome when David slays Goliath. Well, tonight, Goliath was held to just one run as the Indians finally got back in the win column with a 3-1 victory over the Yankees at Progressive Field.
The Indians took advantage from a rare lack of command from Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda to get on the board first. Jason Kipnis was hit by a pitch to begin the ballgame and went to second on an Asdrubal Cabrera groundout. Shin-Soo Choo walked and then Carlos Santana struck out. It looked like the Indians were going to blow another prime first inning opportunity, like they have so many times this season. But, Michael Brantley made sure the Indians didn't squander their chance. With two outs, he blasted a three-run home run to the bleachers in left center, staying on the baseball and hitting the ball about as far as he can to left center to put the Indians ahead 3-0. Lucky for them, that was all that Justin Masterson and Company needed because that's all the run support they got.
It's been a real up and down season for Justin Masterson, but he had accounted for 50% of the Indians wins over their last 26 games entering tonight. Masterson put up zero after zero after Kuroda settled in and scattered nine baserunners over his 6.2 innings of work. For Masterson, the key is and has always been command. He threw 72 of his 106 pitches for strikes in the game. The lone run came on a Mark Teixeira sacrifice fly in the sixth. He navigated through a fifth inning jam with no damage and minimized the damage in the sixth inning.
In the seventh, Masterson got into some two-out trouble. He gave up back-to-back singles to Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher before giving way to Vinnie Pestano. Pestano walked Robbie Cano before getting Teixeira to pop up with the bases loaded. Masterson struck out six and walked two on the night and gave the Indians exactly what they needed on a night with no offense.
Pestano worked a clean eighth while the Indians clinged to their 3-1 lead. Chris Perez entered the game with his first save opportunity since August 13. He looked sharp, striking out Jeter to end the ballgame and put the Indians back in the win column.
With the win, the Indians moved to 55-71 on the season. Justin Masterson becomes the Tribe's first 10-game winner this year. Save #33 to Chris Perez. Hiroki Kuroda took the complete game loss, falling to 12-9.
Stat of the Night: The Indians WON!
Player of the Game: Michael Brantley. In a lost season, Brantley has been a pleasant surprise. He's shown more of an ability to drive the ball to all fields and has really blossomed into a very solid hitter.
Tomorrow's Game: Ubaldo Jimenez and Freddy Garcia will do battle at 1:05 p.m.