If you didn't watch or listen to this game, and tried to look at a box score to deduce how it went, you'd see an interesting outing from Justin Masterson:
6.0 IP, 9 H, 9 SO, 0 BB, 2 ER
Normally I'd be praising an Indians pitcher to had this type of start. There were a lot of hits, but no walks, and a lot of swings and misses. What bothered me about this start was the continuation of a trend that might mean he can no longer be a starter in the majors. Masterson is a right-handed pitcher with a three-quarter delivery; normally pitchers with this type of delivery are very good against hitters from the same side, and for the same reason, lit up by hitters from the opposite side. Left-handed hitters are getting more time to see Masterson's pitches, and have accordingly hit .292/.392/.450 against him in the majors. Tonight Texas had three left-handers in their lineup (Julio Borbón, Josh Hamilton, and Chris Davis), and in their first two at-bats against Masterson, they went 5-for-6, with two extra-base hits, and no strikeouts. That's right, of Masterson's 9 strikeouts tonight, all came against right-handed hitters. MLB managers can read the splits as well as a blogger can, and you better believe they'll be throwing as many left-handed hitters as they have available against Masterson until he can prove he can get them out. That's why a superficially decent start is so concerning to me; we could be looking at a pitcher the Indians were counting on to stay in the rotation all season essentially being downgraded to a right-handed specialist.
The other happenings weren't pretty, either. Jhonny Peralta has been awful at the plate in this young season, and he made another throwing error on defense that lead to two runs. The concern in Peralta moving to third was mostly about his range, or his reaction time; his arm has always been strong and accurate. I'm guessing that Andy Marte's going to start getting some starts at third base as the Indians start thinking about their next third baseman.
The Indians were denied a third run because a fan grabbed Michael Brantley's two-run ground-ball double. The ball wasn't hit very hard, and although they didn't show where Luis Valbuena was when the ball was interfered with, I'd have to guess that was at least to third base. Unlike a ground-rule double, where the rules are set in stone, umpires have the discretion to score a player who they deemed would have scored had the play continued. I couldn't understand how the home plate umpire thought the Rangers would have had a play on Valbuena, even with Nelson Cruz's excellent arm.
|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|Shin-Soo Choo||.142||Jhonny Peralta||-.274|
|Michael Brantley||.133||Justin Masterson||-.177|
|Grady Sizemore||.085||Asdrubal Cabrera||-.176|