DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 04: Michael Brantley #23 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates scoring a second inning run with Lou Marson #6 while playing the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on September 4, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Brooks Baseball PitchFX - Justin Masterson
A series win? Inconceivable, but true.
For whatever reason, the Indians have owned the Tigers this season, whether it's when both teams are in the thick of the race or when the Tigers are 16.5 games up. Considering where the teams were coming into this series (Tigers sweeping Chicago and having everything to play for, the Indians going practically 0-for-August and having almost nothing to play for), you wouldn't have dreamed that the Indians would outplay the Tigers in two straight games. But that's what has happened.
Justin Masterson has had his share of blow-ups, but he's also been at times a very good pitcher, sometimes alternating between the two extremes. One start after allowing 8 runs against Oakland, he held the Tigers to two runs on four hits in six innings, and only walking one batter. Justin finished his outing with 93 pitches, 63 for strikes, and most of those pitches were straight sinkers; according to Brooks, he threw 13 non-fastballs all night. The key was that 75% of those sinkers were strikes, and once he proved that he would be in the strike zone, he was getting swings early in the count.The two runs he allowed came on swing of the bat - Miguel Cabrera took him deep in the sixth for a two-run homer.
The Tribe offense scored three runs early in the game off Detroit starter Rick Porcello, and thanks to Masterson and the bullpen, those runs stood up. The Indians scored twice in the second, once with nobody out, and once with two outs. Carlos Santana (who has been practically the only good offensive player in the lineup recently), singled to start the inning, and he came home when Michael Brantley slapped a double down the left field line. But Russ Canzler couldn't get Brantley to third, so when Jack Hannahan came to the plate, Brantley had made it only to third base. But Jack bailed out his temmates, singling home Brantley, and giving the Indians a 2-0 lead. The third run of the game scored when Asdrubal Cabrera doubled down the right field line (it might have been a triple had the ball boy not picked up the ball) in the third inning to plate Choo, who had doubled to start the inning.
So thanks to the early offense and Masterson's nice pitching, the Tribe bullpen had a lead to protect. Manny Acta got away with using Scott Barnes against Brennan Boesch, as the Detroit right fielder hit a drive to right-center that was an out but would have been at least a double in many other parts. After that loud out, Acta followed his conventions, using Joe Smith for the balance of the seventh, Vinnie Pestano for the entire eighth, and new papa Chris Perez in the ninth. Perez was razor-sharp, striking out Prince Fielder and Boesch and ending the game with a routine grounder to second off the bat of hot-hitting Delmon Young.
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