June 9, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson (63) delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
A 57-game streak ended tonight: the Indians were shut out for the first time this season.
I suppose someone on the 'net has already looked into this, but it seems to me that Interleague play has more great pitching performances on a prorata basis than Intraleague play. It does make sense (if true), as batters are facing pitchers they perhaps haven't seen in their entire careers. Kyle Lohse is well known to Indians fans as a member of the Minnesota Twins, but he's been in the National League since the second half of the 2006 season, and many Indians in the lineup hadn't faced him before (b-ref says only Damon and Kotchman have).
But while being new to most of the lineup was an advantage, his control and command of his pitches was even more of one. You don't have to be a flamethrower to be aggressive in the strike zone, as Lohse proved tonight; he pounded the zone with a fastball averaging 90 mph, and the Tribe hitters were off balance all night. They had a mini-rally in the second, when Chisenhall batted with runners on first and second, but Lonnie popped up to end the threat. The Indians didn't get a hit until the fourth inning, and that came on a Michael Brantley bunt single. Brantley got the Indians' second hit as well, this time a more conventional one - a line drive up the middle. Lohse's evening ended after he gave up his third hit with two outs in the eighth, an Asdrubal Cabrera single that would have been a double had Carlos Beltran not played the carom off the right field wall perfectly. Cabrera tried to take second anyway on a stolen base, but Yadier Molina made a perfect throw from his knees to nab Cabrera and end the inning.
Justin Masterson had the misfortune to be on the other end of this pitching gem, as he threw one of his best games of the season. He allowed five hits in seven innings, but one of the those hits was a Carlos Beltran homer in the third inning. Masterson didn't walk anybody and struck out six on the evening, an outing ripped from the 2011 season. Tonight's gem meant that Justin has now thrown four Quality Starts in his last five outings, a very good trend.
Carlos Beltran's double and two sacrifices in the eighth meant that the Indians wouldn't even bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, as closer Jason Motte (who very easily could have been in the Mark DeRose deal instead of Chris Perez) retired the Indians in order in finish the contest.
(Side note: Kent State will be taking on Oregon at 11 PM Eastern in Game 1 of an NCAA super-regional. The game will be televised on ESPNU.)