Player of the Game
I don't know why anybody would even attempt to win the Player of the Game when Justin Masterson is on the mound as he has a team high 11 POG awards in his 24 starts, but today he was beaten out by the Indians scrappiest utility man, Ryan Raburn. Raburn hit a two run home run to right, then later smashed a solo home run to the bleachers in left, putting the Indians up by five again. Raburn is now just three home runs away from his career high, despite playing in about 50 less games to this point. His final POG score (9.21) for the game was just a single away from his season high.
Everyone knew that runs would be at a premium going into today's match-up that featured two All-Stars on the mound. This didn't bother Ryan Raburn, however, who spotted the Indians a three run lead in the third when he hit a two run home run down the right field line. Off the bat, the ball looked like an easy pop up, but Jordan Danks kept tracking it as it drifted into the outfield seats.
The Indians were really able to hit Chris Sale around in the fifth inning when they put two more runs on the board and knocked Sale from the game. Drew Stubbs lead things off with the first of three straight hits before Asdrubal Cabrera scored the second run with a sacrifice fly. Two more batters reached base to no avail, however, as Michael Brantley and Mark Reynolds struck out to end the inning.
In all, the Indians offense was pretty tight today with three batters hitting safely three times each. Drew Stubbs and Carlos Santana each hit three singles while Ryan Raburn hit two home runs along with a single. Six different Indians either scored or drove in a run, with even Mark Reynolds jumping in on the action with an RBI single. Yan Gomes also reached base three times with a couple singles and a HBP.
Justin Masterson threw 6.2 innings and struck out seven while just allowing a single run. Prior to the seventh, he had allowed just two hits as well, but he struggled as he neared 100 pitches and gave up three more singles. It was his shortest outing of his last three, but he was saved by Rich Hill, who got Alejandro De Aza to ground out to second base with the bases loaded.
The Indians eighth straight win makes them 15-6 over their past 21 games and moves the Tribe to within two games of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. It also places them a full game ahead of their competitors for the second Wild Card spot depending on the outcomes of tonight's games. This is the first time the Indians have ever swept two four game series against Chicago in team history and the first time against any team since 1960.
For how low scoring the game was and how good the two starters are, the game was actually pretty sloppy. Chris Sale gave up ten hits and quite a few deep fly balls while Justin Masterson walked three. Indians fans have been spoiled by great pitching and stupendous match-ups like last time Masterson threw against Yu Darvish. This game just didn't have the same feeling or intensity as that prodigious match-up.
Poor base running cost the Indians a chance to add on a few more runs in the sixth when both Mike Aviles and Stubbs were caught out on the base paths. Aviles lead off with a single, then was caught in between second and third on Stubbs' hit. Stubbs then was out at first as part of a double play when he was off with the pitch and Nick Swisher flew out to center. Stubbs didn't look back until it was to late and was out by a step at first.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 6 - Chicago White Sox 1