Player of the Game
Justin Masterson played the ace card again tonight as he dominated the Orioles from start to finish (or at least until there was one out in the 8th). Masterson won his 6th Player of the Game out of his last 9 starts and has scored negative points in each of those three starts he hasn't won it. Tonight he earned 7.07 points, a fair average for him, with 6 strike outs and one run allowed in those 7.1 innings pitched. It is his team leading 10th award of the season. Shin-Soo Choo also deserves recognition for his score of 5.38 derived from a 2 run home run and a single.
Justin Masterson owns Chris Davis. Today he struck him out 3 times, with Davis never really having a chance against him. In his career Davis has 10 plate appearances against Masterson and has struck out 5 times. Since the Indians are done with the Orioles for 2012, Davis will have to live with this one for a long time without getting another chance.
The Indians got back even at .500 after losing four in a row, but the damage has already been done. Detroit has won 8 of their last 10 and is currently 4 games above the Tribe after being in third place just last week. By August 5th the Indians will have played 6 more games against the Motor City Kitties and will likely know their fate in the Central Division.
Rehab Update: Rafael Perez pitched two innings in Akron today as he is pretty much ready to return to the team. So far he has allowed no runs on 3 hits in 5 innings for Akron and Columbus. The Indians wanted to see him throw multiple innings in a game (which he did today) so he is expected to return sometime this week. I would much rather write about what is happening in the Majors than the minors, but with three semi-important players currently playing outside of Cleveland (Perez, Grady Sizemore and Roberto Hernandez) you can expect a lot more of these updates in the near future. This update was courtesy of @AkronAeros on twitter, the greatest of all the Indians minor league twitter accounts.
The Tigers bolstered their starting rotation today, the weakest part of their first place team. The Indians need a starting pitcher even more and have a deeper minor league system than Detroit, but have been unable to pick up a single player to aid them in the 2012 playoff hunt. At this point any player in AAA should be considered expendable as all the pieces for the Indians near future are already on the roster.
The 1-8 effort of the Indians 5 and 6 hitters in the lineup goes a long way to describe why the Indians were only able to score 3 runs tonight and just 9 in their last 5 games. Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner are specifically supposed to be run producers and although they have had quite a few opportunities but have been completely unable to come through. Luckily Shin-Soo Choo was able to get 2 RBI on a home run from the leadoff spot to keep the Tribe ahead.
Play of the Game
Justin Masterson recieved the benefit of a possible blown call at first as Matt Weiters looked like he beat Masterson to the base on a double play ball that was called in the Indians favor. The play ended the 6th inning and kept a 1-0 Indians lead intact.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 3 - Baltimore Orioles 1