Jul 13, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson (63) prepares to deliver a pitch as he looks in for the signs against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
It looks like last weekend's dud against Tampa Bay was just a mechanical hiccup, as Masterson was not only in the strike zone, but mostly throwing in the right parts of the strike zone. Brooks has his strike zone percentage as 65%, including a whiff percentage of 11%. His fastball especially seemed to have a lot of life on it, and with its velocity sitting in the mid-90s to begin the game, that made his mid-80s slider more effective. Justin lost some velocity as the game went on (as most non-Verlander pitchers will do), but thanks to control of the strike zone, he still remained in control through the seventh inning, only allowing two base runners in an inning once (seventh). The seven shutout innings came against one of the better offenses in baseball; the Jays are third in the AL in runs scored, and second in home runs. He seems to have figured them out, for Justin did the same thing against Toronto to begin the season (eight shutout innings).
The only offense of the evening came when Travis Hafner skied a hanging breaking ball over the right field fence for his eighth homer of the year. It seem off the bat that it was hit that hard, but the loft on the ball, combined the strength of the guy hitting it, got it out of the yard. The Indians collected 8 hits on the night (including 3 from Michael Brantley and 2 from Johnny Damon), so they had other opportunities to increase their lead, but couldn't get an RBI hit with runners on. Their best chance to tack on runs came in the fourth, when a Brantley double pushed Carlos Santana to third with one out. But Lou Marson struck out after a lengthy battle, and Johnny Damon grounded out to end the threat. Ricky Romero, who has been one of the few Toronto pitchers to stay healthy this season, went 6 innings and allowed one runs on 6 hits, 95% a line that would get both he and his team a win.
The Indians dropped their first game after leading going into the eighth last Sunday, and tonight they started a new streak by using the usual formula of Vinnie Pestano in the eighth, and Chris Perez in the ninth. In this case, Perez had the more difficult inning, as he faced Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion in the ninth. Perez's first blown save of the season came against this Toronto team, and involved the same players he faced tonight. But this time it was a different story, as he retired the Jays in order, including a game-ending strikeout o f Encarnacion.