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Indians Indians Archive Game 91 Recap: Santana Comes Alive!
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

santana HRWhat a difference five days makes. Last Friday, Justin Masterson was dealing against the Toronto Blue Jays, a significantly better lineup than the one that the Tampa Bay Rays put together on Wednesday night. Masterson labored through 109 pitches in 4.1 innings, allowing 14 baserunners and four runs. But, the Indians offense came alive in the seventh and wound up taking home a 10-6 victory.

The pitching matchup looked daunting from the start. Masterson entered the game 1-7 with a 7.69 ERA against the Rays and, amazingly, lowered that ERA in tonight’s start, but only because he had been so bad beforehand. The Rays trotted out Jeremy Hellickson who really should have eight or nine wins by now, but has been the victim of no run support.

Hellickson got a little bit of run support Wednesday night thanks to Masterson’s lack of command. The Indians went in a hurry in the first inning. The Rays appeared to be going in a hurry, as Masterson retired the first two hitters, but then he got himself into trouble. With two outs, he walked Ben Zobrist and gave up a single to Matt Joyce that sent Zobrist to third. The ultra-aggressive Rays wasted no time running on Masterson and his long delivery as Joyce swiped second base. Jeff Keppinger, with two ducks on the pond, grounded out to short to end the inning.

In the second inning, the Indians broke some remotes, got some dogs kicked, and had thousands of four-letter words hurled at them. Michael Brantley continued his torrid pace by leading off the inning with a triple into the right field corner. The anti-clutch Carlos Santana struck out swinging with the infield back and the Rays giving the Indians a free run as long as Santana put the ball in play, except for a pop up. Travis Hafner, with the infield in, grounded out to second. Johnny Damon was out by a half-step at first on a grounder to Carlos Pena with Hellickson covering the bag.

The Rays followed that momentum up by scoring a couple of runs in the second. Back-to-back singles set up the inning and, following a groundout that advanced both runners, Elliott Johnson singled to left to drive in the first Rays run. BJ Upton followed with a sac fly to deep right. Elliott Johnson stole second, but Pena struck out to end the inning.

The Indians went very quickly in the third and fourth while the Rays added on in the third. The first two runners reached yet again, this time on walks. After a double steal put runners at second and third, Masterson induced a groundout to second that both runners had to hold on. Luke Scott, who owns the Indians, singled through the hole on the right side for a RBI. Desmond Jennings put down a “safety squeeze” bunt, which wound up being a bunt single when Jason Kipnis failed to cover first. Masterson walked Jose Lobaton to load the bases, but wriggled off the hook getting a pop out and a fielder’s choice.

Masterson put up a zero in the fourth and the Indians offense finally responded in the fifth. Santana walked to leadoff the inning. With two outs, Hellickson hit Casey Kotchman in the right shoulder with a 0-2 pitch. As is usually the case, it came back to haunt Hellickson. The next batter, Jack Hannahan, smashed a two-run double to nearly straightaway center to get the Tribe on the board. Shin-Soo Choo followed with a single up the middle that stayed under Johnson’s glove and crawled into center. Asdrubal Cabrera smoked a single to center to send Choo to third, but Kipnis grounded out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Masterson’s command failed him again, but Esmil Rogers saved the day. Keppinger bounced back to the mound to start the inning, but then three straight Rays reached base with a single surrounded by a couple of walks. Manny Acta had seen enough from Masterson, who threw 109 pitches in 4.1 innings of work. Rogers came in with the bases loaded and just one out. He has struggled in high leverage situations thus far and few situations are more high leverage than entering a game with the bases loaded. But, Rogers stood tall, striking out Johnson and getting Upton to ground out to third.

Neither team responded to that potential momentum swing as both offenses went down weakly in the sixth.

The Indians put together a solid rally with two outs in the seventh against Kyle Farnsworth. Choo singled on a big hop past Pena who barely gave a token effort and Cabrera followed with a rocket of a single to right that sent Choo to third. Joe Maddon brought on lefty Jake McGee to face Kipnis, who was hitting just .226 off lefties entering the at bat. Kipnis fouled off fastball after fastball until centering on one and hitting it back up the middle for a game-tying base hit. McGee didn’t get a very close pitch on the outside corner to prolong the at bat a few pitches earlier and Maddon was ejected from the game after he went out to the mound with the intention of yelling at the ump. Brantley followed with a first-pitch single up the middle, past a diving Zobrist, to put the Indians ahead 5-4. Santana followed with the exclamation point, a BOMB to center field to give the Indians an 8-4 lead. Weeks of frustration melted away from Santana on that trot around the bases. Hafner singled, Damon struck out on the same pitch that was a ball to Kipnis, but the damage was done. Six straight two-out hits, Santana’s first HR since May 15, and they did it all off a lefty throwing 96-98 mph.

Tony Sipp came on to start the seventh and didn’t retire a batter. He gave up a bunt single to Luke Scott, who would win a batting title if he played all 162 games against the Indians, and issued a walk to Jennings. Acta, and the rest of the Indians fan base, had seen enough and he went and got Joe Smith from the pen. A slow roller to 2B became a bang-bang play at second, and Cabrera really hung in there to fire to first and double up Lobaton. Johnson chopped one off the plate to second and Kipnis couldn’t come up with it, allowing Scott to score, and cutting the lead to 8-5. For whatever reason, Upton tried to bunt for a hit with two outs and was retired by 10 feet as Smith fielded and fired to first.

Against lefty JP Howell, the Indians went in the blink of an eye in the eighth. About the only interesting thing that happened was the STO camera crew focusing in on Chris Perez drinking a Red Bull during the return from commercial.

Vinnie Pestano entered for the bottom half of the eighth. Pena showed bunt in a 1-2 count and struck out looking on a backdoor slider, much to the disbelief of Rick Manning and Matt Underwood. Zobrist lined out to right. Asdrubal Cabrera made a play that would best be described as “filthy” to end the inning, with a short hop pick and easy throw to first.

In the ninth, Cabrera, with the pressure off, took a short, sweet swing and hit a leadoff double down the left field line. Kipnis followed with a good piece of hitting of his own, slapping a ball into the gap in left center for a RBI single to push the lead to 9-5. He advanced to second on the relay throw home. Brantley did his job, moving Kipnis to third with a groundout to second. Santana, with his newfound confidence, hit a laser beam through the infield for his fourth RBI of the night. Hafner bounced into a twin killing to end the inning, but the Indians added two more for a 10-5 lead.

With the game no longer a save situation, Jeremy Accardo entered to try and finish it off. It wasn’t pretty, but . After a four-pitch walk to leadoff the inning, Scott doubled down the left field line to put runners at second and third with nobody out. Keppinger scored on a groundout to short to make it a 10-6 game. Lobaton flew out to center, Johnson grounded out to the mound, and the Tribe chalked up win #47.

The Indians move to 47-44, the Rays fall to 47-45. Esmil Rogers was the winner, his first as an Indian. Kyle Farnsworth took the loss. The Indians gained a game in the AL Central on the first place White Sox to cut the deficit to three. The Tigers won again and are now just 2.5 games back.

Stat of the Night: The 10-run outburst was the sixth time this season that the Indians have reached double digits in a game. They’re 6-0 in those six games.

Player of the Game: This goes to Esmil Rogers. Despite Santana snapping his HR drought, it was Rogers’s work in the fifth that kept the Indians in the game and gave them the chance to rally. He also got the win in relief.

Tomorrow’s Game: Hopefully the Indians saved some of tonight’s runs because they’ll face Cy Young Award candidate David Price. Ubaldo Jimenez will take the mound for the Indians with a matinee getaway day game at 12:10 p.m.

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