April 7, 2013
Chapter 6: Reversal of fortune
In three previous matchups with the Indians in Tampa Bay, David Price had not given up a run to the Indians. In two previous games in Tampa Bay this season, the Rays had not given up a run to the Indians. But in both cases the Indians reversed trends in a big way. In one game the Indians reversed their offensive futility and turned what could have been a dreadful end to their opening road trip into a huge momentum boost going into their first homestand.
The game started similarly to the series opener; Michael Bourn led off the game with a double, but was stranded at third. Let's face it: you thought that Price would now settle down and stifle any further Tribe offensive rally. And you thought that Justin Masterson's first-inning wildness, while it didn't lead to the Rays scoring any runs, would presage future runs allowed and an early exit.
All those trends were turned on their heads. The Indians would not only finally get to Price, but he'd be knocked out of the game after five innings. And Masterson would not only recover from his difficult first inning, he'd completely dominate the Rays in seven shutout innings, striking out eight and allowing just two base hits.
The series shutout streak was broken by Drew Stubbs, who lined a two-out RBI single in the second. Then the floodgates opened. Mark Reynolds hit what looked initially like a pop fly to center, but the ball kept carrying. And carrying. And carrying over the fence for a three-run homer. Now it was 4-0, and perhaps the Indians would end their road trip at 3-3 after all.
In the fifth the game went from a semi-close game to a laugher; Ryan Raburn doubled down the left field line, then scored on a two-out Carlos Santana double. After a Mike Aviles single, Lonnie Chisenhall, who I thought would have been kept on the bench versus Price, launched a three-run homer to make the score 8-0. LGFT Jamie Wright then started warming up, and the rest of the game became a spring training game.
In the seventh Mark Reynolds launched a massive home run off the facing of the upper deck in left field, already his fourth home as an Indian. Michael Bourn would hit a home run of his own to lead off the eighth, and Carlos Santana capped a career 5-for-5 day with a line drive home run in the ninth. There are several other offensive highlights that I neglected to mention.
Meanwhile Justin Masterson rolled, retiring the last fifteen batters he faced. He probably could have pitched the eighth inning, but by that time the Indians were so far ahead it made no sense for him to do so. Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano each pitched a scoreless inning to preserve the team shutout. Just 24 hours ago we were researching the last time the Indians had been shut out in three straight, but instead, the Indians completely reversed that, if a 13-0 win could be considered the opposite of being shut out.
It's very possible that the Indians will not have as convincing win the rest of season; heck, it might be several years until another win like this. This game does not mean that the Indians will win 100 games and win the World Series any more than the first two losses in this series means the Indians will lose 120 games this year; the future is somewhere in between. But it was a win to savor, especially heading into today's home opener.