With no pressure on them, the Indians look like a different ballclub in Detroit. The Tigers, who desperately need wins, have looked very tight at the plate and it hurt them again tonight as the Tribe clinched a series victory by beating the Tigers by a 3-2 score. Justin Masterson threw six solid innings, the bullpen was again terrific, and the Tribe bats did just enough damage to win the game.
Just like last night, the Tribe scored first. After going down 1-2-3 in the first, it took only two batters in the second inning to scratch out a run against Rick Porcello. Carlos Santana led off with a single and was promptly doubled home by Michael Brantley. Brantley remained on the basepaths until Jack Hannahan singled him home with two outs to put the Tribe up 2-0. For Hannahan, that was just his sixth RBI since the All-Star break. In the third inning, the Indians added another run on a leadoff double from Shin-Soo Choo and a one-out ground rule double from Asdrubal Cabrera.
Justin Masterson made the 3-0 lead look pretty safe for most of his outing, throwing 63 of his 93 pitches for strikes and recording 11 ground ball outs and four strikeouts of the 17 outs he got. It was a very encouraging sign for Masterson, who entered the game with a 1-5 record against the Tigers and an ugly 5.43 ERA. Masterson looked like his 2011 self, pitching without run support and doing a great job of staying out of the middle of the plate. One pitch that was over the middle of the plate was to Miguel Cabrera, who hit a laser beam out of the ballpark to left to make it a 3-2 game. The home run came after a blown pickoff call at first that should have been the second out of the inning. Masterson induced a fielder's choice ground out right before the home run that should have ended the inning.
At that point, it became a battle of the bullpens. Both the Indians and Tigers had impressive nights from their relievers, as they combined for 5.1 innings of just one hit and seven strikeouts leading up to Chris Perez's save opportunity in the ninth. Perez, who had missed the previous three games due to the birth of his daughter, entered with the most precarious of leads. Perez was dominant. He touched 96 mph several times, striking out both Prince Fielder and Brennan Boesch to start the inning and Delmon Young grounded out weakly to second to end the ballgame.
With the win, the Indians improve to 58-78 and the Tigers fall to 72-63. Justin Masterson wins for the second time against Detroit this season and picks up his 11th win of the season. Rick Porcello took the loss, falling to 9-11.
Stat of the Night: The Indians won back-to-back games against the same team for the first time since July 3 and 4, when they took two straight from Anaheim.
Player of the Game: Justin Masterson. It begins with the starting pitcher. Masterson was terrific, throwing 68% of his pitches for strikes and recording 11 ground ball outs.
Tomorrow's Game: The Indians will try to sweep the Tigers by sending Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound against Doug Fister. First pitch at 7:05.