Masterson Pitches, Offense Struggles...How Original; Royals Win 2-1

Another team not in contention comes to town, and this time the Indians have to take advantage

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Indians Vs. Royals Final: A Familiar Refrain For Justin Masterson In 2-1 K.C. Victory

The first three Indians in this afternoon’s game at Progressive Field singled, and when Carlos Santana drew a bases-loaded walk to plate a run and tie the game at 1-1, one had the hope that maybe a big inning was in the offing and that — for once — Justin Masterson would be getting ample support.

Unfortunately, after the four-pitch walk to Santana, Shelley Duncan swung at the first pitch and popped out, then Kosuke Fukudome hit into a 1-2-3 double play, and the Tribe had squandered a big chance.

Kansas City managed 12 hits but stranded 10 men on base, and yet it was still good enough to defeat the Tribe 2-1, as Cleveland lost a chance to perhaps pick up a game on the Detroit Tigers, who are down 6-2 at the time of this writing in Minnesota.

Bruce Chen pitched 7.1 superb innings, allowing only five hits — and only two hits after that first inning back-to-back-to-back string the Indians put together. Chen (10-5) combined with two relievers to shut down the Tribe offense, as Joakim Soria pitched a one-two-three ninth to pick up save number 24 on the season.

And Masterson? Justin fell to 10-8 despite allowing only two runs on nine hits in six innings.

The Cleveland bullpen did its job again today, with Rafael Perez, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano each pitching a scoreless inning. But the bats did what they have done so often this season — let Masterson down.

In seven of Masterson’s eight losses in 2011 the Indians have managed two runs or less. In fact, the highest offensive total for the Tribe in any game lost by Masterson this year was four runs back on May 12 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays.

It was so bad this afternoon that the Indians were limited to a 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position, and that “1” was achieved on Asdrubal Cabrera’s single that loaded the sacks in the first.

After the first inning the Tribe never got more than one man on base in any frame. In the second Jerad Head beat out an infield single in his first big league at-bat, but was stranded. Same in the third with Santana after his two-out hit. Ezequiel Carrera walked with one out in the fifth, but was then caught stealing. And Head reached on an error to open the eighth (remember that the Tribe just needed one to tie) before Carrera grounded into a force at second, pinch-hitter Jim Thome fanned vs. Kansas City reliever Greg Holland, and Cabrera ended what turned out to be the last chance with a fly out to left.

So the Indians take 2-of-3 from the Royals, but at this stage of the season, when you have a chance for a sweep, you need to seal the deal.

With the loss the Indians fall into a temporary tie with the Chicago White Sox for second place, contingent upon how Chicago fares later this afternoon in Seattle against the Mariners. And the Tigers’ magic number has shrunk to 25 even if they should not rally against the Twins.

The Oakland Athletics will be in town beginning Monday night for a four-game set. David Huff (1-2) will get the start in the opener, while Brandon McCarthy (7-6) toils for Oakland. The Royals, in the meantime, now head on to Detroit for four with the Tigers.

Hopefully Kansas City can play Detroit as tough as they played the Tribe all through this weekend.

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Indians Look To Keep Tigers In View On Sunday Vs. Royals

After two thrilling and heart-pounding games in this weekend series vs. the Kansas City Royals, the Indians will go for a sweep on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 when Justin Masterson (10-7, 2.83 ERA) takes on Bruce Chen (9-5, 4.12 ERA) at Progressive Field.

Masterson will be making his fourth appearance of the season against the visitors from western Missouri. In his three previous starts, Justin has gone 2-0 in 20.2 innings of work, allowing seven runs. In his last start at home against Kansas City, Masterson worked eight innings and got a no-decision in what became a 5-2 Cleveland win.

Chen has faced the Tribe once in 2011 and came away with a win on April 19 in Kansas City, when he went seven frames and gave up just two runs to The Good Guys.

For his career Chen is 4-2 vs. the Tribe in 10 appearances, including six starts, but has a high 5.03 ERA in 39.1 innings.

Shin-Soo Choo is going to be shut down for a few days, and that will include no swinging bats, after Choo strained his left side in last night’s game and was replaced by Ezequiel Carrera. Tribe manager Manny Acta said that “Choo felt his left side again on one of those swings. He wanted to keep playing, but that wouldn’t have been smart.”

After today’s game, the Oakland Athletics come to town for a four-game series beginning Monday night. David Huff is scheduled to go on Monday night, but the starter for Tuesday (to replace Josh Tomlin, who is on the 15-day disabled list) has yet to be determined.

The Detroit Tigers, who still lead Cleveland by 6.5 games in the American League Central, are in action this afternoon in Minnesota before Detroit goes home to take on the Royals.

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Game 2 Vs. Royals Cannot Top Game 1 In Drama...Can It?

The Indians will go for two in a row over the Kansas City Royals as their weekend series continues on Saturday evening at 7:05 at Progressive Field. Can this game possibly generate the excitement that last night’s did?

Probably not in the unique way that having Jim Thome back did on Friday, when the Tribe came from behind with two runs in the seventh to win 2-1, but excitement can be had in many ways when there are less than five weeks to go in a season and your team still has a chance, even if that chance seems slim.

Fausto Carmona will go for The Good Guys tonight. Carmona (6-12, 4.76 ERA) will try to build on the success he has had in his last two starts. In 14.1 innings Carmona has allowed only two earned runs in beating the White Sox and getting a no-decision against the Mariners, and in the process has dropped his ERA by .36 points.

Fausto has faced the Royals twice this year, going 1-1 in 14.1 frames and surrendering six earned runs, running his career mark against the Royals to 6-5 in 95 innings.

Both of Carmona’s starts against Kansas City in 2011 have been in Cleveland.

The Royals will counter tonight with Danny Duffy (3-8, 5.48 ERA). Duffy beat the Tribe on July 31 in his only career appearance vs. the Indians. In that game, Duffy went five frames and allowed eight hits but only two runs.

However, since then, Duffy has lost four consecutive starts, giving up 16 runs in 21 innings of work.

The series will wrap up on Sunday at 1:05 when Justin Masterson takes the hill for Cleveland, The Oakland Athletics will then come to town on Monday for the start of a four-game series that will complete this homestand on which the Indians are currently 2-3.

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Indians Vs. Royals Final: Ubaldo Jimenez Sparkles As Tribe Takes Emotional 2-1 Win

Ubaldo Jimenez pitched seven superb innings, Jack Hannahan tied the game in the seventh with a huge two-out hit, and Ezequiel Carrera drew a bases-loaded walk to push across what proved to be the winning run, as the Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals in front of a charged-up crowd of 41,337 on the night Jim Thome came home.

Yes, Thome went 0-for-4 with two Ks, but truly, the energy his return brought seemed to will the Tribe to victory.

Or maybe it just seemed that way. Hey, whatever works, yes?

Jimenez was the star of this game, and improved to 2-0 at Progressive Field. In 15 innings at home, Jimenez has allowed just one earned run. Now, to get him straightened out on the road…

After Eric Hosmer gave the Royals a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning with his 12th homer, Kansas City loaded the bases with one out, but Jimenez worked his way out of the jam, avoiding the meltdown that he experienced last weekend in Detroit.

Ubaldo fanned 10 and allowed seven hits in improving to 2-1 in the American League, and the Indians rode that performance to return to .500 at 64-64, The Tigers led the Minnesota Twins 2-1 at the time of this writing, and should Detroit hang on, they will retain their 6.5 game lead over the Tribe.

But remember, Cleveland trails by only five in the loss column, and still has six more meetings with the Tigers in 2011.

The Indians wasted a couple of chances in the early innings tonight, but finally broke through in the seventh when Carlos Santana drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a Kosuke Fukudome single. After Shelley Duncan struck out for the second out, Hannahan delivered a single to center, on which Santana reached for the plate with his hand as he slid and beat the throw from center-fielder Melky Cabrera.

Oddly enough, in his previous at-bat, Hannahan had also singled with a man at second, but that time Fukudome was thrown out at the plate by left-fielder Alex Gordon to end the fifth inning.

Back to the seventh. With two outs, a tie game at 1-1 and men at second and third, Lou Marson drew a walk off of Royals’ starter Felipe Paulino which ended Paulino’s night.

Paulino was frankly fantastic tonight, and just tired as his pitch count neared 120. Be that as it may, Paulino took the loss when Tim Collins came on and walked Carrera to give the Indians a 2-1 lead. Collins then struck out Cord Phelps on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat, but the Tribe bullpen sealed the deal.

First Vinnie Pestano worked around a leadoff hit-batsman to open the eighth and set the next three Royals down.

Then Chris Perez came on for the ninth and allowed a leadoff single to Mike Moustakas. Alcides Escobar laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Moustakas to second — odd strategy in seeming to play for a tie, and it turned out in Cleveland’s favor as Perez got Salvador Perez to fly deep to Shin-Soo Choo (who returned to action from his “trunk” problem) in right, with Moustakas moving to third.

Perez then secured his 28th save by getting Chris Getz to line to Choo for the final out, and the Indians were 1-0 with Thome in 2011.

The Indians will send Fausto Carmona on Saturday evening at 7:05 as they try to climb above .500 again.

Let’s hope that the energy — and the size of the crowd from tonight — will be repeated tomorrow and the Tribe can have (dare we say it?) a winning streak when they take the field on Sunday.

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