The Indians picked up a big win on Thursday night to take the series from the Chicago White Sox and to move within a game and a half of the Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central, and just as importantly, saw an opponent get back up after a frightening incident, and so will not have nightmares accompanying them to the Motor City.
Matt LaPorta belted a two-run homer, Kosuke Fukudome had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run, and Justin Masterson won his tenth game with some help from the bullpen, as the Tribe moved to 62-58 on the season and won their sixth game in the last eight, 4-2 at U.S. Cellular Field.
The night could have been a bad night despite the win, but it seems as if all is well with Chicago starter Philip Humber.
In the second inning, Fukudome hit a liner back to the mound which hit Humber flush in the face. Humber dropped to the ground, but almost immediately got back up, and even wanted to continue in the game, but was (wisely) pulled from the game by Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen. The ball hit Humber in the forehead area, but it seemed as if some of the impact might have been reduced by his moving his head back and distributing the blow rather than the shot hitting with no chance to “go with it”, so to speak.
As someone who was knocked out by a golf ball which missed my temple by just a couple of inches years ago, trust me when I say that that was a scary moment for Humber, for the White Sox, and for Fukudome, and all parties concerned have to feel as if a real tragedy was thankfully avoided.
Anyhow, back to the game.
Masterson pitched six innings and allowed both Chicago runs on seven hits, and was followed by a convoy of four relievers, who sealed the deal with three scoreless innings. After the game, the White Sox' Juan Pierre paid Masterson a compliment when he said that Justin has become a "bulldog in this league. The numbers speak for themselves. He's a pretty tough pitcher to hit."
Rafael Perez got one out in the seventh and was followed by Joe Smith, who finished the frame. Vinnie Pestano pitched the eighth and worked out of a bases-loaded and two outs jam by striking out Gordon Beckham, and Chris Perez worked a perfect ninth to earn his 27th save.
After Paul Konerko gave Chicago an early lead with his 28th homer against Masterson, LaPorta belted his 11th round-tripper, a two-run shot to left-center that gave Cleveland a 2-1 lead. The White Sox came right back and tied it in the fourth on an RBI base hit from Tyler Flowers, but the Indians took the lead for good in the sixth when Fukudome’s shot down the line in right off of Will Ohman (0-3) rattled around long enough to score Shin-Soo Choo all the way from first. Later in the inning, Asdrubal Cabrera drew a bases-loaded walk off of Jason Frasor, and the Tribe had a big insurance run and a 4-2 lead that completed the scoring.
So now the Indians head to Detroit, and here is the situation: If the Tigers win at least one game, they will retain first place going into next week, but even if Detroit does hold on to the lead, if Cleveland could take two-of-three, they would be only a half-game back when they leave Detroit.
It should be a fun weekend.