I just feel like shouting names right now. Masterson! Hafner! Santana! Fukudome! LaPorta! Pestano! Parmigiana! Wait a second....
August 3rd, 2011
Cleveland Indians - 7
Boston Red Sox - 3
W: Justin Masterson (9-7) L: Franklin Morales (0-2)
Seriously, about time right? Justin Masterson didn't go real deep into the game, but officially, he pitched a quality start. And when you pitch a quality start, more times than not, you deserve to at least not lose the game.
So, thank you offense for letting the man get a win. It almost makes up for all the one-run games the guy has pitched without reward. This was simply an offensive outburst that has been much needed and it's good practice before this game with Texas.
Aside from the one walk to David Ortiz, Masterson looked to be in control as usual.
"I started off the season 5-0, but as the season's gone on, I felt like each time, every month, I feel better and better, under control, making good pitches and things like that," Masterson said. "I feel like, as the season's gone on, I've gotten better in the whole aspect of pitching."
And boy ain't it the truth? Aside from the Reddick home run in the fourth (who he also struck out as a part of a four-strikeout inning) it was smooth sailing from the first until the sixth. Masterson really had to buckle down after getting a double-play ball with out. Instead though, a not so perfect throw from Jason Donald led to a missed catch by Jason Kipnis.
That is absolutely the last thing you want to do with a lineup like Boston's.
So two on, one out, Masterson has to throw more pitches and work a little harder to end his night, but he did just that, and got Varitek to strikeout to end the inning. That shows true growth that Masterson was talking about. Pitchers like Carrasco show you that they aren't finished products yet because they let situations like those get away from them.
Masterson has come a long way. He's got the stuff to get out of those jams, but now he has the control and ability to harness it all to do it as well. And as Manny Acta said, Ubaldo won't be coming in now feeling like he's the top of the rotation guy. He's in a dual ace role with Masterson. And with them back to back, there is a good chance for some streaks to get going, right offense?
The biggest part of that offense was Carlos Santana's two-run shot that untied things and put Masterson in-line for that win. Santana was coming off a four-strikeout game, so it was huge to see him come back not just with the home run, but with a three hit night that also included a walk. It's been the rooks the past few nights, but last night, it was the big guys that came to play, which shows you how good this team is when their lineup is hitting.
They can not only hang with a team like Boston, but they can certainly beat them. And last night it was a game of pepper off that big monster, something you would hope hitters like Matt LaPorta would do. And if you can get Pronk to go opposite field, off a left-hander no-less, then you know things are good.
"I feel pretty good off them lately," said Hafner, who raised his season average against lefties to .257. "I don't think I've had a lot of success, but I feel like I've had a bunch of good at-bats, and I've hit some balls well. And I haven't really had any hits, so it was good tonight to swing the bats well off them."
And he hit that ball off Andrew Miller well. Knocked in Cabrera and just went the other way with it. Didn't hit it too hard, just lifted it. A pop-out in some parks, but in Fenway, a double with a run.
It was a big night for Pronk and Santana though. Both getting three hits, but don't forget about the guy hitting right behind them, Kosuke Fukudome who had three hits as well. Not only that, he stole a base, and was really big in getting those added on runs. Again, this lineup can really come together when you got Fukudome getting in on the party and even LaPorta too.
And all in all, this was a huge win going into Texas. Perfect preparation for what will likely involve some offense at some point. It's Texas and the Rangers are involved, so you know there will be some runs scored at some point, Hopefully the Indians are doing most of it and Ubaldo is good tonight, but you know what to expect. You can get some well-pitched games like Masterson's last night against a team like Boston but also see offense.
With Texas, it could get a little crazy.
But with Boston, it's just great to get a split and win the season series. Suck it Beantown!
One last note on Masterson. He loves pitching against Boston, or perhaps just in Boston. Who knows. It may have something to do with the trade. Maybe there is a familiarity there though as he is 9-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 87 innings at Fenway before last night's game. Now it's 10-2. Of course he played there for a few seasons, mostly as a reliever, but he's now 3-0 against his old club.
Vinnie Pestano had been falling into a rut with some of the situations lately, so I think the scale back of the situations he is brought into is a good idea. It worked last night with him coming in after Masterson in the seventh and pitching into the eighth.
Austin Kearns, RBI number seven. I have a long list of things that have happened more times than a Kearns RBI this season, including this list.
Jason Kipnis' homer streak ended, which also means he's back to tweeting, but the rook was 1-for-5 last night. Still got a hit streak though, right? The top of the lineup was 2-for-14 with a walk. So it's good to see such productivity with the top of the lineup not doing a whole lot. Cabrera did score all three times he reached base though.
Are you ready for it? Because I know one guy who is ready for Ubaldo Mania.
"I'm ready for it," Jimenez said. "I know it's difficult, because you're going to have to face nine guys instead of eight and a pitcher. It's probably a little bit different. But at the same time, if you think about it, you don't have to be hitting. You don't have to be running the bases and thinking about doing so many things you have to do as a pitcher in the National League. You only have to focus on pitching here."
Who really knows what to expect in Arlington tonight. Jimenez has never faced Texas. This is his first start with a new team to boot. So really, it could be anything. If anything though, I'm sure Jimenez is glad the day is finally here, because as he said, he just wants to play baseball.
It's tough to answer the question about, "how do you think he's going to do." Because really, there is little history, if any. Never pitched in Texas. So, mixed bag, reach in, see what you get. But the odds are good that it will be good.
Carrying on the theme of introducing some of the other lesser-known prospects since the Jimenez deal went down, every day we'll learn a little more about one of the prospects in the Indians system.
His name is Chun-Hsiu Chen, but you can just call him Chen. He's the Indians next big hitting catcher. Chen had a weird and inconsistent start to his 2011 season, but since has leveled out and has shown that power and hitting stroke, especially as of late. This year he is hitting 270 with 12 homers and 56 RBI. But the catcher from Taiwan is capable of big things with the bat. Last year between Lake County and Kinston he hit .315 with 12 home runs and 69 RBI. It just goes to show you with the inconsistency, he's improving upon his other numbers and demonstrating what type of power potential he has.
We're not talking raw, hitting home run type of power, although he can do that. We're talking about hitting the ball with authority and just driving it around the park. Last year he hit 38 doubles, so he's got all sorts of ability to stroke a ball into the gap. You can go a long way with 53 extra-base hits in 110 games, which is what he did in 2010. This year, he's got 35, with plenty of time left to go.
So here's our daily outfielder injury rundown. It's crazy how the entire starting outfield has been displaced due to injuries at this point. Brantley was the last guy holding it down and now, things aren't looking so hot with him.
Michael Brantley has not seen an improvement in his sore wrist. It could be a disabled list situation based off the batting practice he will take in Texas today. It was thought he could miss a week, but if things don't go well today, it would probably be longer than a week, which would definitely mean some DL time involved.
The good news is that while Brantley could be going one way, Shin-Soo Choo is going int he opposite direction. A successful batting practice round and will do it again in Arlington. Acta said that he'll "let it go" in a few more sessions, which basically means, full swing, no holding back. I'm just going to add my speculation and say, rehab outing after the Texas series wraps up? That would be my hope at least. I'd think that would be the path he'd take at this rate.
With that, Acta once again addressed Austin Kearns and again, it doesn't look like the guy is going anywhere. You can read into this as much as you want, but Acta once again makes an excuse for Kearns and then says, well, if everyone was healthy, we wouldn't need him that much anyway.
"He has kind of an unorthodox hitting mechanics, and I guess for a guy who doesn't play every day with those mechanics, it doesn't make it any easier," Acta said. "He just dug himself into a big hole earlier in the year, and it's going to take a lot for the numbers [.208 average, two homers in 144 at-bats] to impress anybody.
"If we have our outfielders healthy, we probably wouldn't even need as much from an extra outfielder anyway, because our guys play every day, and they swing from the left side."
Still, if this is your fourth outfielder, he doesn't bring as good of defense or speed as someone like Carrera would. I would hope even Acta could admit that.
Here's something that Manny Acta shouldn't have to explain. You want to save him for a save opportunity on the road if the game goes into extra innings, but sometimes you just run out of time or the situation may call for your big gun. Still, with this pen so deep, can you really fault the guy for going to guys like Joe Smith and Rafael Perez? Papelbon can come on because he has no chance for a save opportunity, so it's worth using him in that spot. Sometimes, people just don't quite grasp this concept either way.
And finally, Carlos Carrasco dropped his appeal and the rotation will probably just shuffle accordingly. Masterson will start again on Tuesday on normal rest because of the off-day. So Carrasco is eligible to return Thursday, but probably won't until his normal slot. You start worrying about innings here, but Acta feels his horses can go well over 200 and be fine.
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