FINAL: Masterson's Brilliant Start, Timely Late-Inning Hitting And A Triple Play -- A Perfect Recipe As Indians Finally Win, 7-1

Third time the charm? Tribe tries to salvage one game against White Sox

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9 Total Updates since April 3, 2011
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RECAP: Tribe Excels As Progressive Field, For Second Straight Day, Sets Low-Attendance Mark

The Indians played like a major league team today. They bunted, executed fundamentally with two sacrifice flies, got a terrific performance from a starter and lights-out relief pitching…plus a triple play — and for the second straight day Progressive Field saw a new dubious record for attendance, as the all-time low from yesterday was “eclipsed” today when only 8,726 turned out on a damp and chilly afternoon.

Positively a Cleveland Municipal Stadium circa 1978 fan count there.

Nevertheless, the Tribe gave those who came something to remember.

The White Sox got on the board first in the third inning against Justin Masterson when ex-Tribe hero Omar Vizquel led off with a single, moved up on two ground outs, and scored on a single from Paul Konerko.

The score still stood at 1-0 in the top of the fourth, where the first two Sox got aboard. Then, Alexei Ramirez popped a bunt which was caught by a diving Carlos Santana — playing his first major league game at first base. Santana flipped to first to double off A.J. Pierzynski, and when Orlando Cabrera fired to second and caught Carlos Quentin before Quentin could get back, the Indians had their first triple play in two years, and the first against the White Sox since 1978.

Masterson took that adrenaline-rush and ran with it all the way through the seventh inning, keeping the Tribe in the game and then, when Cleveland took the lead in the sixth, doing exactly what a good pitcher does after a rally — slamming the door on the other team.

The two runs the Indians put up in the sixth came after two were out and nobody on. Travis Hafner stroked a single, and then, with raindrops falling, Orlando Cabrera belted a homer to deep left to give Cleveland its first lead of the season.

After Masterson blanked the Sox in the visitors’ seventh, Lou Marson, catching for the first time this season and batting ninth, executed a perfect hit-and-run double with Jack Hannahan taking off from first. Hannahan came all the way around to make it 3-1 Tribe. Then a sacrifice bunt from Michael Brantley and a sacrifice fly from Asdrubal Cabrera and the Indians had a three-run lead.

Tony Sipp came on and had a one-two-three, nine-pitch eighth inning in a perfect set-up job, and the Indians put the game away in the bottom of the eighth.

Pinch-hitter Shelley Duncan drove in two with a single, and another sacrifice fly, this one off the bat of Brantley, and Cleveland had the final margin of a 7-1 victory.

Chris Perez came on and pitched the ninth for the Tribe and retired the Sox one-two-three to finish it.

Masterson was a “master” at keeping the ball down today, getting 17 of his 21 outs via the ground ball, Justin did not strike out a batter, while walking two, but his biggest contributions were hanging tough, benefiting from the triple-play and keeping his focus until the Indians could come to life.

John Danks took the loss for Chicago. Danks got through 5 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, but his second last batter — Orlando Cabrera — was the only batter needed to hand Danks the loss.

The Tribe is off tomorrow, and will return to Progressive Field Tuesday night to take on the Boston Red Sox, who are in danger of falling to 0-3 this afternoon against Texas.

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IN PROGRESS: Three More Runs Turns This One Into A Laugher; 7-1 Going To The Ninth

Shelley Duncan, pinch-hitting for Jack Hannahan, drove in two runs with a single, and another sacrifice fly — this one off the bat of Michael Brantley — has the Indians cruising 7-1 heading to the ninth inning in what is about to become the first victory of the year.

The Indians mustered this rally off of three White Sox’ pitchers, as Will Ohman had his second rough outing of the weekend, giving up three runs in an inning-and-a-third. Philip Humber came on and allowed two singles — including a bunt hit by sixth-inning hero Orlando Cabrera — and then Matt Thornton came on and allowed the three runs in the eighth to actually score.

Look for a full recap of the game later this afternoon. Finally, there will be a chance to celebrate something — and we owe it all to Justin Masterson, who battled and fought through seven innings and kept the Tribe in the game when they fell behind early.

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IN PROGRESS: Ah, Fundamental Baseball!

Lou Marson drove in Jack Hannahan with a hit-and-run double that scored Hannahan from first, then a sac bunt from Michael Brantley and a sac fly from Asdrubal Cabrera and, suddenly, the Indians lead with six outs to go, 4-1.

Small ball, fundamentals…whatever it takes!

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IN PROGRESS: Orlando Homers, Tribe Leads, Rain Falls....Let It Rain!

After the first two Indians were retired by John Danks in the bottom of the sixth it was looking bad for the Tribe to finally break through, but then Travis Hafner singled and Orlando Cabrera blasted a shot to deep left, and suddenly…finally!!..the scoreboard shows Cleveland ahead — for the first time in the regular season — 2-1.

Justin Masterson is still out there in the seventh for the Tribe, spinning a marvelous game — exactly what the doctor ordered.

It is raining but the game goes on. Let’s go Indians, let’s bring this one home!

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IN PROGRESS: Carlos Santana Starts Triple Play; Three For One, What A Bargain!

With two on and nobody out in the top of the fourth, the White Sox’ Alexei Ramirez lined into a triple play, Carlos Santana to Orlando Cabrera to Asdrubal Cabrera.

That’s the way you do it!

Now excuse me as I refer you to my (prophetic?) statement of yesterday when trying to encourage people to go to the old ballyard: to paraphrase, you never know when you might see a four-homer game from someone, or a no-hitter…or a triple play.

Ah I wish I could have seen that. Game highlights to watch tonight for sure.

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IN PROGRESS: An Old Friend Helps Put The Indians In A Third-Inning Hole, 1-0

Omar Vizquel singled leading off the third, moved to third on two ground outs, and, after a walk, Vizquel scored the first run of today’s game on a single by Paul Konerko, as the Indians once again find themselves trailing, albeit by only a 1-0 margin as we head to the bottom of the third.

Justin Masterson has been getting nothing but ground balls…literally. Masterson has given up eleven ground balls, including four hits, to go with no strikeouts and no fly balls.

Though trailing, you have to be encouraged so far by a competent start — for once this regular season.

Masterson has made it through three innings on 47 pitches. Let’s hope that average of almost 16 pitches a frame sinks a little, or he may be gone after six or seven innings.

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IN PROGRESS: Masterson Keeps The White Sox Off The Board In First -- Breaking News?

Justin Masterson achieved today what had not been achieved up until now for the entire 18 prior innings of the season — the Indians are coming to bat and not losing.

Three ground ball outs with a harmless single from Adam Dunn, and oh it is good to see a goose-egg from a Tribe starter!

Updates will follow if and when the action warrants or when the score changes, as the Indians and the Sox head to the second all scoreless.

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Indians' Lineup For Game #3 Posted

The Indians have announced their lineup for the last game of their series with the White Sox this afternoon at 1:05.

Notably, Matt LaPorta will have the day off, with Carlos Santana playing first base and Lou Marson behind the plate for Marson's first action of the year.

Here is a look at the complete lineup:

1) Michael Brantley (L) CF
2) Asdrubal Cabrera (S) SS
3) Shin-Soo Choo (L) RF
4) Carlos Santana (S) 1B
5) Travis Hafner (L) DH
6) Orlando Cabrera (R) 2B
7) Travis Buck (L) LF
8) Jack Hannahan (L) 3B
9) Lou Marson (R) C

Chicago's starters have not yet been posted, but that is not really why we are here. Let's let today be all about the Tribe and trying to get that elusive first win, before a day off tomorrow and then welcoming a different set of Sox when Boston comes calling on Tuesday evening for the first game of the season under the lights.

UPDATE -- not going to post the whole Sox' lineup here as Chicago's one through eight are identical to the first two games, but it is worth nothing that old friend Omar Vizquel will bat ninth for the Pale Hose. I wonder how he will feel, looking up at 30,000 empty seats and remembering when...
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