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Indians Indians Archive Morning Rundown: Gutty Defense, On-Point Masterson Down Yankees
Written by Nino Colla

Nino Colla

jmasterson07I pronounce today is Asdrubal Cabrera Day. Today we celebrate everything that is good about Asdrubal Cabrera. Commence celebration. Break out the streamers, blow up the balloons. Throw out a runner at first base barehanded. Do something Asdrubal would do.

July 6th, 2011

New York Yankees - 3

Cleveland Indians - 5

W: Justin Masterson (7-6) L: Phil Hughes (0-2) SV: Chris Perez (21)


Because let's be honest, he's legit. Asdrubal Cabrera is not to be messed with.

So he commits an early error and then comes back later in the game and is pretty much the catalyst to Justin Masterson finishing off his eight shutout innings. How many of those balls that the Yankees hit in the eighth inning should have actually been hits? Is this guy not unreal?

Look, Masterson has made incredible strides to what he is right now, how could he not the way he is going? We'll talk about that more in a second. But here's the whole thing with Masterson as a groundball pitcher. He struck out six last night., but he recorded 12 groundouts.

This guy would have been so much better last year if he had the defense he does now. And Cabrera is a big part of that. He gets to everything this side of the Cuyahoga.

"He played fantastic defense," Indians manager Manny Acta said of Cabrera. "Both of them were great, especially the one up the middle. Those hands and that range that he had and the athleticism to get up and make a good throw -- this guy has been darn good for us."

All this after he tweaked an ankle last night and was day-to-day. I didn't expect him to be in the lineup last night, yet there he was, making stops and throws, and unbelievable plays at the end of the game. He gutted it out and continued his streak of playing in every single game this season, ankle injury be damned.

"He was feeling so good that before I left the ballpark [Tuesday night], he was bombarding me with text messages about being able to play today," Indians manager Manny Acta said.

And usually it is Joe Smith on the mound for some of these excellent plays. But Justin got a first-hand look, not once, but twice in this one.

"It doesn't surprise me, but it's still exciting to watch," Masterson said. "It never gets old, but you're not like, 'Oh, a ball hit to Asdrubal, what's he going to do?' It's always exciting being able to watch him out there."

But now let's talk about Justin Masterson. Boy is this kid good. All-Star replacement? I would hope so. He's got two straight wins, great for July after winless in May and June. He doesn't have the record because of run support, but is there anyone better in the American League not on the All-Star squad? The answer. Yes, somehow Dan Haren and Michael Pineda were left off, but everyone that ranks higher than Masterson in ERA is on the All-Star squad for the most part.

But how far has he come? Through his first 18 starts last season, up through July 11th, Masterson was 5-13! Holy cow.

Masterson Through 18 2010: 5-13, 105 IP, 5.31 ERA, 82 K, 48 BB, 8 HR

Masterson Through 18 2011: 7-6, 121 IP, 2.66 ERA, 86 K, 38 BB, 4 HR

Everything is cut in half! I mean literally, his ERA is cut in half. His losses, half. His walks, decreased, his home runs given up, half.

If you were to pick someone who has put together the most remarkable "turnaround" type of a season, it would have to be Masterson.

"I was able to keep them off balance, working inside and outside, trying to keep them guessing," Masterson said.

He was on-point last night. When he's good, that's what he does. Two runners on in the second via a single and an error, but Masterson wiggles out and it was shut down from there on out. Not more than one baserunner from beyond the second inning.

And it was good to get him some more run-support, even though there very well could have been more. That's the thing really, looking at this lineup. It is a whole heck of a lot formidable with Travis Hafner and Matt LaPorta. He's hitting in the eight hole! Would you rather have that or a 5-6-7 of Shelley Duncan, Austin Kearns, and Lou Marson?

They only scored five runs, but they very well should have scored a lot more with 10 hits and five walks, not to mention the three hit by pitches.

They had the leadoff man on the first three innings and a runner on base in each inning. They had the bases loaded three times before Carlos Santana finally came through with a walk and then Sizemore hit a sacrifice fly to score two more runs in the eighth.

Plenty of opportunities against the Yankees last night to score some runs, but they just couldn't come through with that two-out hit. They still won and didn't need all those extra runs, but it's nice to see what that lineup is capable of. Just imagine if they had a healthy Choo in the middle of it. That would be something you would go to war with in my opinion.

That is a formidable lineup that can take on any team. And it doesn't need an addition all.

Random Details...

TCF's own Al Ciammaichella pointed something out last night that I didn't realize. Mostly because, I forgot about it, like the Yankees should have a few weeks ago when it happened. But, the Indians got hit three times last night. Not a single warning? Yet Mitch Talbot hits a guy and gets run.

Boy it was good to see Matt LaPorta back. He passed all his tests and he was in the lineup and right from the get-go, he made an impact. Two hits in his first two at-bats, a hit off the very first pitch he saw. No rehab necessary Also a great diving play to help Masterson get out of his early jam and really set the tone of the entire game. He gets a lot of flack, but he's coming around this season, give him some more time. He may not be the multi-time All-Star we were expecting, but he's going to be a productive player.

Not only did Cabrera play and LaPorta return, Travis Buck was available off the bench. It appears that he will start on Thursday.

Oh we can't forget Lonnie Chisenhall hitting his first home run, can we? And off a left-hander no less. It was his bug-a-boo in the minors this year, hitting left-handed pitching and his first dinger comes off one.. So that's good for him. Congrats to Lonnie.

How about the play Grady Sizemore made in center field? Nice to see Grady of old for once in the outfield.

It's hard to believe that it has been six years since the Indians last won a series at home against the Yankees, but that was the case. Good to get that series win regardless of who it is though. That's now three straight series wins since Arizona. Just keep winning two of three. That's a great formula for success.


The talk about additions continues. Yesterday, Ken Davidoff of Newsday said that the Indians, Tigers, and Yankees are in the market for rotation help. I'm not really sure how that makes sense. He also listed the Indians among a few other teams as a potentially top suitor for Jose Reyes, if the Mets were to trade him. Uh what?

But look, and this is something that is getting discussed on Twitter by myself and some of the people I follow. The biggest addition that this team can have is a hitting Grady Sizemore. And that's something Anthony Castrovince touched up on. Even going a step further and saying a consistent Carlos Santana. And also goes back to what we've been discussing in regards to an expensive add and a cheap add.

The move, unless you go for a Ludwick or a Cuddyer, isn't going to be a whole heck of a lot of an impact. And even then, those aren't superstars. They won't replace what Choo is capable of. Granted, he hasn't produced what he was capable of, but you get the point.

Is it work giving up Nick Hagadone? Not to me. Because when you look at it, we're going back to what Castrovince also said in his blog entry. At best, the Indians are a year ahead, perhaps even two years ahead.

With Matt LaPorta being activated and Travis Buck not going on the disabled list, the Indians moved Josh Judy back to Columbus to make room for LaPorta. With Zach McAllister coming up today for his start, the Indians have another roster move to make. They've got an extra bench player right now, so you have to imagine it will be that, unless they choose to roll with one less in the bullpen.

If you're picking a bench player, I think it might end up being Shelley Duncan.

It may be Asdrubal Cabrera day, but we can celebrate Josh Tomlin as well. Two great articles on the Cowboy strike thrower. The first is from Castrovince, who talks to Tomlin about how he got such good control with the baseball.

"My dad [Jerry] knew I wasn't going to be a big guy," Tomlin said. "We'd play catch, and he'd make me hit his glove in the chest, or he'd raise it to his face and make me hit it there. It's always been about me hitting my spots and throwing my pitches for strikes."

He knows he can't walk anyone because then he creates problems. He creates issues on the basepaths because with any pitch Tomlin throws, if he misses his location, he could see it fly over the outfield walls.

Manny Acta probably had the best quote, saying that he's surprised if he walks one, and if he walks two, he wants to blame the umpire.

That's how good Tomlin has been this year in terms of his control and walking hitters. If he walks more than one, you kind of wonder, "What's the deal here?"

The other article is a piece on FanGraphs discussing a Mark Buehrle comparison and how Tomlin has beat the "regression" that he was due from the beginning of the season. I tend to get a little fussy when these stat guys throw around BABIP and FIP and x-divided-by-y equals you suck like it's the bible. Some guys live religiously by statistics, and that's fine. But it's plain to see what Josh Tomlin is a success and why he is a success. He's not due for regression or anything like that. This is what he is, and it works.

We've already talked about this a few days ago after he pitched, but he doesn't need to be making many adjustments, because he isn't a guy who builds his success off of raw stuff or talent. He just throws the ball and hits his spots. And that's something, you just can't do easily.

bullpenmafiathumb[STAT OF THE DAY]

For your amusement the "Bullpen Mafia, Stat of the Day."

He is Mr. Sidearm, but you might as well call him Mr. Unoutchable. Joe Smith continues to be just that as he extended his scoreless streak to 22 straight appearances without a run and it's been since May 8th against the Los Angeles Angels since he gave up an earned run.


Nino's TV Reference of the Day: Barney Stinson: Legendary - How I Met Your Mother

In honor of Asdrubal Cabrera, because he is Legen....wait for it... dary.

Days Without a Tweet: 44


You can follow Nino on Twitter @TheTribeDaily where he tweets about running into Manny Acta on the streets of Cincinnati. You can also read more Morning Rundown and other features at his blog, The Tribe Daily.

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