Covering the Bases: Game 126
Indians 3, Yankees 1
FIRST: The Streak II is over.
Justin Masterson turned in a strong performance, Michael Brantley provided some power, and Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez did their thing, helping Cleveland ends its nine-game losing streak. It was a sequel to The Streak: the 11-game slide that began on July 27 and transformed the Tribe from hopeful to hapless.
With 22 losses in 27 games, this is a stretch the players won’t soon forget.
“I’ll never forget about this season for the rest of my career,” Perez said. “For me personally, yeah, this is going to go back into my bank. I’ll be like, ‘I don’t ever want to get there again. How did it get to this? How did it get to 11 in a row? How’d it get to nine in a row?’ Me personally, yeah, it’ll help me out in the future.
“As a team? I don’t know. It’s hard. Because youre in the middle of a streak, it doesn’t mean you come to the park trying to do something different. You try to win every game. We were losing all different ways. Bad starting pitching. Bad hitting. Bad bullpen. Errors. Walks. Everything. Home runs. You name it, and we found a way to lose.
“You can laugh about it, but it [stinks]. If anything, if we come out here and have a good September, we can say, ‘Look, we went through the worst you can go through and we bounced back and we’re professionals.’ At the end of the day, that’s our job.”
SECOND: Masterson paved the way to the win column by giving the Indians 6 2/3 strong innings. The big sinkerballer allowed just one run — in the sixth, after loading the bases with no outs — on seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
Masterson was the man who ended both streaks.
Indians manager Manny Acta was asked what it is about the pitcher that makes him such an effective stopper, and why he seems to perform better in such situations.
“I wouldn’t say that he’s just better in those situations,” Acta said. “He had a chance to stop it before it got to nine.”
True. Masterson was behing No. 2 and No. 7 in the 11-game slide and he lost No. 5 in the nine-game streak.
“But, he’s our guy,” Acta continued. “He’s our guy, our No. 1 guy coming into the season and he’s got the stuff to do this more times than not. He’s human, but we feel that every five days he can go out and do this.”
THIRD: Brantley gave Masterson all the support he required in the first inning, when the center fielder launched a three-run home run. It’s a good thing he did, too, because Hiroki Kuroda settled in from there and turned in a complete game with no more runs allowed.
“Michael, he stepped up,” Acta said. “That was a huge three-run homer.”
The blast gave Brantley 55 RBIs on the season.
“One more,” Brantley said with a smirk.
As in, one more RBI, and he will tie the career high of his dad, Mickey Brantley, who had 56 RBIs for the Mariners in 1988.
HOME: With two outs and runners on second and third base in the seventh inning, Acta handed the ball to Pestano. The setup man issued a walk to Robinson Cano and then fell behind, 2-0, to slugger Mark Teixeira.
At that point, Acta headed to the mound for a chat.
“I was more trying to settle him down,” Acta explained. “Also, I just told him that if this guy hits his best pitch, I could sleep better tonight. I just felt the at-bat before wth Robinson he was throwing way too many sliders and he was falling behind in the count because of that.
“I went up there and just told him to throw him your best stuff right here. If he hits it, wherever he hits it, we can go to bed and sleep well. I don’t want to see this guy hitting your second pitch.”
Pestano listened and induced an inning-ending flyout from Tex, who walked away impressed.
“Pestano’s got dirty stuff,” Teixeira said. “You don’t want to throw out a Mariano [Rivera] comparison with that cutter. I mean, that’s a really tough cutter. He throws it hard. He throws it from a sidearm angle, which is really tough to see. And his numbers show it. His numbers are really good this year.”
Yankees (73-53) at Indians (55-71)
at 1:05 p.m. ET Sunday at Progressive Field