May 19, 2013
Chapter 42: Just another Cy Young victory
When the 2013 season began, there were seven pitchers in the AL who had won a Cy Young at some point in their careers. After today, the Indians have faced six of them (R.A. Dickey, David Price, Jake Peavy, , Bartolo Colon, Felix Hernandez), with only CC Sabathia left unfaced. In addition, they've faced Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee during Interleague Play. So they've faced in total eight former Cy Young winners, in other words, about one every week this season. Counting today, they've won seven out those eight matchups, with Jake Peavy the lone loss.
Today might have been the most impressive of the lot. Felix Hernandez came into the game today the league leader in ERA at 1.53, and hadn't given up more than two runs in a game since April 11th. The Indians scored two runs in the first inning, and three runs in the second.
Terry Francona before the game, when asked about how to attack King Felix, said that you had make him work as much as possible so that perhaps you could get him out of the game by the seventh inning. Hernandez has not only great rate stats, but he's gone seven or more innings in five out of his nine starts, and hadn't gone fewer than six innings in a start this season. Well, by the time the second inning was over with, Felix Hernandez had thrown over 60 pitches.
The tone was set from the first at-bat of the game. Bourn lined a single through the middle, then took second when the Seattle outfielders didn't charge the ball quickly. Hernandez struck out Jason Kipnis, leaving Bourn at second base, but Michael Brantley, who was batting third because Asdrubal Cabrera was given a day off, dumped a single into shallow right field to plate the first run of the game. Mike Morse foolishly threw directly to home plate on the play, allowing Brantley to go to second. That overthrow came back to haunt the Mariners, because when Nick Swisher's grounder went under Justin Smoak's glove, Brantley was able to score the Tribe's second run. The Indians didn't score again that inning, but Hernandez would have to throw 15 more pitches to finally retire the Indians.
The second inning started much better for Hernandez, as the first two Tribe hitters grounded out. But Michael Bourn reached on an infield single, Jason Kipnis added a single of his own, and Michael Brantley blasted a three-run homer to right-center to essentially blow the game open.
That three-run shot blew the game open because Justin Masterson was once again dominating. He wasn't quite as dominating as his last outing against the Yankees, as there were many fly balls and line drives hit on the day. But he was missing bats, too, and by the time he left the mound after the top of the seventh inning he had struck out 11 batters, many of them left-handed batters.
The Indians would tack on the final run of the game on another hustle play. In the fourth inning, Mike Aviles hit a double down the left field line, and when home plate was left unoccupied after Drew Stubbs hit a dribbler, he jumped on the opportunity, scoring the Tribe's sixth run off Hernandez .
With the victory the Indians are now eight games above .500 and will spend another day in sole possession of first place. This hot streak is now three weeks old, and since that second game of the doubleheader in Kansas City, the Indians have gone an astounding 17-4.
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