Player of the Game
With 6 strikeouts and only 4 hits allowed during his 7.2 innings pitched, Justin Masterson dominated the Twins tonight. The biggest trouble Masterson had during the night was caused by an error on a ground ball, followed by a seeing-eye single. This threat was handled with ease with a strike out of Jim Thome and a double play. Masterson has been the rock of the Indians rotation this season and deserved another win that he was robbed of. Even without the win, he earned 8.56 'POG' points for his 9th 'Player of the Game' of the season. This puts him firmly in second behind Asdrubal Cabrera who has 12.
Since there was no offense to speak of, here are a couple more feathers you can add to Justin Masterson's cap. According to Pitch/FX, Masterson threw only one breaking ball the entire night, splitting his 103 other pitches pretty evenly between 4-seam fastballs and sinkers. This change change in strategy worked well and seems to be a growing trend with Masterson as he sticks with the pitches that work the best. Justin did a great job keeping the ball down which, along with his good downward movement lead to...
...a ridiculous amount of ground outs. 15 of Masterson's 23 outs recorded were on the ground including just one double play. Most of these were easy outs although a couple ground balls were turned into singles and there was one error. Of course if you want something done right you have to...
...do it yourself, and Masterson did. 5 of those 15 ground outs were recorded by Masterson himself on easy bouncers to the pitcher. This shows how big of a ball hog Masterson is and how he doesn't trust anyone else on his defense. Three of the 5 outs made by the pitcher were in the first inning, starting the game off in impressive fashion.
Luis Valbuena's versatility was a huge asset to the Indians tonight as Michael Brantley was pulled from the game before it started with an illness and Travis Buck was removed after being struck by a pitch. This left the Indians with their only two outfielders, Austin Kearns and Ezequiel Carrera in the field already, meaning an infielder would have to play left-field. Luckily, the Indians and Clippers have been working Valbuena in the outfield all year and he was able to play there without incident. Of course with the way Justin Masterson pitched, a rock could have played left field and there wouldn't have been much difference.
The lineup was pretty weak today showing the Indians lack of depth with the injuries to Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore. With Michael Brantley out as well, the outfield consisted of Carrera, Buck and Kearns, none of whom deserve to be starting on any Major League team. The lineup was also missing Travis Hafner who had a scheduled day off and was replaced indirectly by Lou Marson in the lineup. Looking at the starting lineup, it isn't very surprising they were only able to score a single run tonight.
Credit given were credit is due: Glenn Perkins had an extremely easy time mowing through the Indians lineup in the top of the 9th. While he was not that much of a starting pitcher, he looks like a force to be reckoned with coming out of the bullpen.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 1 - Minnesota Twins 2