Chris Perez and Alex Rios exchange a friendly glance.
The Indians are now 13-10 even though Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson have ERAs over 5. If you're an optimist, that means that once Jimenez and Masterson figure things out, the sky's the limit. If you're a pessimist, that means the record is just smoke and mirrors, as neither is going to get much better and the Indians are getting away with it because they've had a favorable schedule.
Tonight the optimists had the better of the argument, as Justin Masterson looked better, going 6.1 innings and striking out 6. The outing wasn't up to the standard he set last April, but the Indians can win with him pitching like this. He ran out of steam in the sixth and seventh innings, allowing four of his eight hits in those 1.1 innings, but before that, he cruised, getting through five innings with only 63 pitches thrown (65% of them strikes).
Jason Kipnis provided most of the offense, driving in four runs in his hometown. Against a left-handed pitcher, Jason hit a two-run triple in the third inning and a three-run homer in the seventh. He's now doing just about everything an offensive player can do, mixing power, speed and average over his recent hot streak (.390/.479/.488, 4 steals over last two weeks).
Asdrubal Cabrera also has been going good lately (.300/.417/.433 over last 14 days), and he had two run-scoring hits. He had an RBI single in the third, and went down and got a low pitch in the sixth, hitting it over the left-field fence for a two-run homer. He also made a very good defensive play, making a diving catch on a line drive off the bat of LGFT Kosuke Fukudome in the second inning.
Manny Acta tried to get away with Dan Wheeler finishing the game with a four-run lead, but he had to bring in Chris Perez after Wheeler gave up a two-run homer to Adam Dunn. Perez, who has been very good since his Opening Day disaster, walked Paul Konerko to bring the tying run to the plate, but retired A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios to end the game. As Rios ran down the line after hitting the game-ending grounder, he took issue with Perez's celebratory yelling, and the two exchanged some words. Chris Perez after the game explained what happened:
"I was yelling at my teammates. I was happy for the win," Perez said. "He might've taken exception to it, but I wasn't yelling anything at him.
"Other than that, he's a competitor. I'm a competitor," Perez said. "He's on a different team. I'm not friends with him. I don't know him personally. I've just been playing against him. That's it. If he's mad, whatever. I don't care."