Orioles 6 Indians 3: “Bad” Masterson’s seventh turns a W into an L

Justin MastersonIn the series opener, the Indians were being completely baffled by Baltimore’s Zach Britton for five innings where they looked as if they would never score. A night later, Cleveland’s Justin Masterson was just as good for six. Retiring the first 12 he faced, the Tribe’s ace looked like he was in this one for the long haul.

“He was so good through the first six innings,” said manager Terry Francona. “He had an explosive fastball and a really good breaking ball. He was locating.”

Entering the seventh inning, the Tribe led 3-1 and Masterson had given up just three hits. He had everything working but in the blink of an eye, it all unraveled.

The middle of the tough Baltimore order was due up and with his first pitch of the inning, Masterson hit Adam Jones. It was at that point that I turned to my wife and said “here comes the two-run homer. Right here.” Literally as that sentence came out of my mouth, the AL home run leader Chris Davis absolutely tattooed the first pitch he saw deep into the right-field bleachers to tie the game at three. Davis has that Russell Branyan uppercut swing, except he has learned how to use it for good, rather than for striking out on the regular.

“I got myself in trouble hitting Jones,” Masterson said. “And then Chris Davis does what he’s been doing — he hits a homer. It’s a good lineup. We had been working well through six innings, and unfortunately, we got to the seventh.”

Masterson clearly became rattled as his next four pitches went wide of the zone to Matt Wieters.

After J.J. Hardy’s first pitch lineout, Chris Dickerson fell behind in the count before checking his swing and punching what was almost like a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line. Lonnie Chisenhall charged but his throw wasn’t in time (and was offline). The Orioles were in business and smelled the blood in the water. Up stepped the light-hitting Alexi Casilla. The former Minnesota Twins second baseman entered the game hitting .211 with no homers and five RBIs. So naturally he took a Masterson hanger deep for a three-run, back-breaking bomb. It was hit first home run August of last year. The pitcher he hit it off of? Masterson.

“I’ve had almost 30 at-bats against Masterson, so I know what he throws,” said Casilla, who is now 10-29 lifetime against the Tribe starter. “He’s a great pitcher when he has his sinker and slider working. In the seventh, he just left some pitches in the middle of the plate.”

Literally in about a five minute span, Masterson went from cruising to crashing, yanked after six and a third, giving up six runs on six hits.

“We didn’t expect that to happen,” Francona said. “Masty has been pretty good. He just had a tough inning, and they made him pay for it.”

In the end, the seventh inning completely did them in as the Orioles won 6-3, but the Tribe had plenty of chances early against Chris Tillman. They just couldn’t put him away.

With one out in the first, Mike Aviles’s single was followed by back to back walks to Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher to load the bases. They only would score one run on Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly. In the second, the Wahoos put the first two men on base via a Mark Reynolds walk and a Chisenhall single. But the inning stalled when Drew Stubbs’s grounder to third caught Reynolds off the bag and he was tagged out in a rundown. Michael Bourn struck out and Aviles grounded out to end that threat.

That’s five base runners and one out in the first two innings and all they had to show for it was one sac fly.

“We had guys on base,” shortstop Mike Aviles said. “We just weren’t able to capitalize. He (Tillman) made his pitches, and he was able to get out of it. That’s what good pitchers do.”

They did get to Tillman in the fifth when Kipnis hit his 10th homer of the season, a two-run shot to left-center. The Tribe’s stud second baseman reached base four times, keeping his ridiculously hot June going. He is now hitting .408 for the month (31-76) with 17 RBIs. But his homer was the last time the Tribe would score.

Tillman went seven innings for the win. Relievers Troy Patton and Jim Johnson did the rest. The Tribe did manage to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Bourn struck out to end the game.

The third of the four game series tonight will feature Scott Kazmir (4-4, 5.37 ERA) facing off with Baltimore’s Jason Hammel (7-4, 5.30 ERA)

(photo via PD wire services)

  • it should be noted that Casilla’s HR was preceded by dubious wild pitch. could have, should have been blocked.

    santana has been a liability behind the plate and it affects pitchers.

  • Natedawg86

    Problem with Santana is that his batting is great for a C, and very good for a 1B. His defense probably brings is “great” batting as a C down to very good or good though.

  • mgbode

    I think that the collective “we” have become a bit too enamored with the hitting per position. I don’t think it matters (unless you are playing fantasy baseball, where it definitely matters).

    I think the better solution is to put them into tiers or types of hitters.

    Example (just using “to-date OPS+” rather than interpreting):

    We have 0 tier1 hitters (elite MLB guys)
    We have 2 tier2 hitters (allstar level hitting) – Kipnis, Santana
    We have 4 tier3 hitters (above average) – Bourn, Reynolds, Swisher, Cabrera
    We have 2 tier4 hitters (below average) – Brantley, Stubbs
    We have 1 tier5 hitter (bad) – Aviles

    Plenty of time for them to move around there between tiers, but that is the general principle. I think that you want 2/3 of your lineup hitting tier3 or better, which we currently have. And, anyone in tier4 or tier5 better be making up for it with defense.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I think that the collective “we” have become a bit too enamored with the hitting per position.

    …so sometimes statistics can lead one askew?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I think I saw a stat that Masterson is something like 0-5 with an ERA over 8 on the road lately – ouch!

  • mgbode

    oftentimes if not properly used. a chainsaw is great if you have a dead tree, but not so useful for cutting off the crust of your PB&J.

  • Harv 21

    That one made me nuts. Fundamental stuff which should be instinct by now after 8 years of training. He also just cannot position his body to frame pitches. When he lets his body momentum carry him out off the plate as Masterson’s slider comes close to the corner it will be called a ball; he’s forcing the ump to separate his movement from the ball’s while looking over his moving shoulder. So he moves when he should anticipate and stay still, and he lazily stays put and attempts backhands on dirt-level pitches when he should be moving and blocking with his body.

    Tribe needs to acquire or quickly develop another catcher. Carlos is not improving and may be getting worse.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Santana needs to either be at 1B or DH more the problem is the guy needs to play behind the plate to improve. Other problem is he and Gomes in the lineup at same time.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    When he got hit on the knee you’d think he’d change but the very next pitch he was in the same position. I know because Underwood kept harping on it.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    More times then not they are used improperly or overused but now your playing in my ballpark. Don’t get me excited!

    I could go for a good ol’ PB&J now, DAMMMMMMMMMM!

  • Natedawg86

    What about the Chiz, Does he take us up to no tier 5 hitters? How’s come no average category? How many elite MLB guys are there in MLB? 10? If we could get Brantley into abover average and have another allstar level hitter…

  • Natedawg86

    Would be interesting to see how certain pitchers on the team perform with Santana as C. Take the 2.5 best and let Yan catch for the others. A good catcher can make an average pitcher a little better, but it does not work the other way around

  • Natedawg86

    A game as a DH is a half day off!

  • Steve

    If Masterson was so strung out by the previous pitch that he served up a such a meatball than even Casilla can hit it out of the park, he has no business being on a mound.

    Santana needs to improve behind the plate, but trying to extrapolate that to blame failings elsewhere is ludicrous.

  • mgbode

    Chisenhall was a tier5 hitter who didn’t make up for it in the field, which is why he was sent to Columbus.

    as far as the rest, at that point, there are plenty of different ways to draw the distinction. just supplying an alternate method. how many you have at each level would determine how good your offense truly is and offer a comparison point to other teams.

    (I try to be optimistic, so I actually lumped average & above average together – if we separated, then at least Swisher would move into that category)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Cleveland in general doesn’t have tier 1 players and I mean all of the sports. Irving is the closest and he can’t stay healthy enough to play a full season.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’m all in for less Santana catching I think not only is Gomes better defensively but he calls a better game too. Santana has shown in the past how his game can be effected. As soon as he can’t hit he’s a real liability.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Russell Martin has to be loving Pittsburgh and vice versa.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • Natedawg86

    Chis is back up has been since the 18th

  • mgbode

    yes, but his overall stats are still being dragged down from early on and are why he ‘was’ sent down. he is being given another chance now (though not doing much with hit yet either). i should have been more clear there.

    also, Chis, Yan, Giambi, Raburn do not have enough ABs to qualify yet. of them, Yan has been by far the best at the plate and in the field.

  • billmedley

    I’m a big Russ Branyan fan[branyfan on MLB sites]and thrilled at the success of Chiris Davis.Followed him when he was going up&down with Texas.His career was mirroring Branyan’s.Wish Russ would have gotten 500 at bats[never did,most 431]a few times.Branyan 15th all time with a homer every 15.1 at bats.194 TATERS in just 2,934 at bats.Russ averaged 30 homers&71 ribs every 440 at bats,as a part timer.He also had 222 h.r’s in the minors,170 by age 24.Davis is a much better hitter of coarse and it’s great he’ getting the opportunity Russ never got.Branyan wasn’t the stiff a lot of people make him out to be.
    “You Never Close Your Eyes”