The Indians looked to be happy to be back on the diamond tonight, riding two first-inning home runs to a quick lead and adding a big sixth inning on their way to an 8-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles that once again put the Tribe in first place by a fraction of a percentage point over the Detroit Tigers.
Justin Masterson has been sharper, but he was strong enough tonight to pick up his third straight win, moving to 8-6 with six innings of eight-hit, four-run ball, and racking up eight strikeouts.
Masterson’s ERA rose to 2.80, but the important thing is that he held the Orioles to a reasonable amount of runs, as the Tribe broke a three-game losing streak.
After Michael Brantley was retired by Jeremy Guthrie (3-13, 4.45 ERA), Asdrubal Cabrera homered over the scoreboard in right to give the Indians a quick advantage. The blast was Cabrera’s 15th of the season. Then, after Travis Hafner walked, Carlos Santana hit no. 14 to right center, and Cleveland was up 3-0 before Baltimore came to bat.
After Brantley doubled leading off the third, A. Cabrera grounded out, with Brantley moving to third. Hafner was hit by a pitch, and Santana followed with his third RBI of the night on a double off the left-field wall that scored Brantley and moved Hafner to third.
Grady Sizemore was intentionally walked to load the bases, and the rally ended right there when Orlando Cabrera grounded into a double play.
The Orioles cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third when Nick Markakis drove in a pair with a two-out single.
In the sixth, Sizemore walked leading off and O. Cabrera moved him to third with a single to left, putting runners at the corners with nobody down.
Mark Hendrickson came on in relief of Guthrie, and Travis Buck scored Sizemore with a sac fly. Matt LaPorta followed with a single, moving Cabrera to second, and after Lonnie Chisenhall struck out, the Indians got some two-out magic when Cabrera stole third and scored on a Brantley base hit, making it 6-2 Indians and moving LaPorta to third.
That was it for Hendrickson, as Jason Berken came on for the Orioles. Berken was greeted by consecutive RBI singles from A. Cabrera and Hafner before escaping the inning with the Tribe now up 8-2.
Baltimore scored two in the bottom of the sixth on a Derrek Lee double and a Blake Davis single, but Masterson stopped the damage right there with a strikeout.
Joe Smith pitched a scoreless seventh, Vinnie Pestano did the same in the eighth, and Tony Sipp finished things up with by striking out the side in the ninth as the bullpen was once again excellent.
Cleveland totaled eleven hits tonight, with Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Hafner and Santana all pitching in with two in the 1-4 spots.
Now that's the way you do it.
The Tribe will try to make it two in a row over the Birds on Friday night when Josh Tomlin (10-4) will take on Baltimore’s Jake Arrieta.