Justin Masterson has shown me something tonight, although — to be fair — he has impressed throughout the entire season.
After allowing two runs and laboring through a long home half of the first inning, Masterson has shut down Kansas City through six innings, keeping the Indians in the game.
You can’t ask much more of a starter than to give a team a chance when he has had to battle adversity.
And in the sixth inning the Indians took advantage of that chance.
Meanwhile the Indians’ first 15 hitters were retired by Luke Hochevar before Michael Brantley finally broke the spell with a single leading off the sixth inning. Hochevar then balked Brantley to second, and Matt LaPorta came through with an RBI double, cutting the Royals’ lead to 2-1.
After Jack Hannahan grounded out to second, advancing LaPorta to third, Grady Sizemore jumped ahead in the count, 3-0, but Hochevar induced a ground-out to second, and LaPorta had to hold at third, leaving it up to Asdrubal Cabrera to try to drive in the tying run with two outs.
However, Hochevar made that a moot point when his second balk of the inning scored LaPorta, and pulled the Indians into a tie in the most unconventional way.
Asdrubal then singled in the infield (which, all things being equal, would have scored the run anyhow), and then Shin-Soo Choo delivered a double to center field, scoring Cabrera, with Choo taking third on the throw to the plate, giving the Indians the lead for the first time since Monday in the tenth inning.
Carlos Santana followed with a walk, putting runners at the corners for Travis Hafner. With two strikes on him, Hafner doubled to left, scoring Choo, and the Indians had increased their lead to 4-2, still leaving runners at second and third with the ninth batter of the inning — Orlando Cabrera — coming to the plate.
Orlando Cabrera finally ended the inning by striking out, but the Indians had put up four runs — three of which scored with two outs.
How many times has a pitcher had a perfect game going, or at least a no-no, and as soon as he has allowed a hit, the floodgates have opened? The sixth inning was yet another example of that.
Now could the Tribe slam the door on the Royals in the Kansas City sixth?
Masterson retired the first two Royals in the inning, but then gave up a single to Kila Ka’aihue that deflected off of Masterson, and followed that with a walk to Matt Treanor, putting the go-ahead runner at the plate for Kansas City in Alcides Escobar.
Masterson sealed the deal by getting Escobar to pop out, a great job of pitching after sitting for a long time in the top of the frame.