Masterson finds form as Tribe tops Angels

Masterson finds form as Tribe tops Angels

Masterson finds form as Tribe tops Angels
ANAHEIM -- Time and time again it looked like the Angels would break through. Time and time again, they didn't.

Sometimes hard-hit balls found the Indians' gloves, sometimes Cleveland got the right pitch at the right time, sometimes luck was just on their side. Whatever it was that held off the Angels, it combined with three ninth-inning Cleveland insurance runs to add up to a 6-2 Indians victory at Angel Stadium Monday night.

The game was 3-2 heading to that ninth before three consecutive singles and a walk to Lou Marson added a run and set the Indians up for more. They got them, thanks in part to the return of second baseman Jason Kipnis, who had been nursing a neck injury for the last week. Kipnis pinch-hit with the bases loaded and hit a deep sac fly to center to add crucial insurance for the Indians.

Look at the line of Cleveland starter Justin Masterson, and it certainly doesn't suggest that the Angels were a team on the verge. The righty twirled six-plus scoreless innings, giving up six hits and striking out four in an outing that pushed his ERA as a starter against the Angels to 1.35 in 46 2/3 innings -- the lowest mark of any opposing starter against the club.

"Masterson matches up well against that lineup because they have a lot of right-handed hitters, and he's very effective against righties," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "His sinker coming into their hands, the slider going away from them ... he matches up well."

"He's throwing low- to mid-90s with a power sinker. ... He combined it with a few offspeed pitches, but mainly the fastball today," Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo said. "He throws one in there that's straight, and then he'll throw another one in there that drops a couple feet, and sometimes your eyes aren't quick enough to check that off."

And while Masterson was, well, masterful, he wasn't without good fortune.

Take a self-created third-inning jam in which he walked nine-hole hitter Chris Iannetta to lead off the inning, then conceded a scalding line drive to Mike Trout. On another night, the Torii Hunter single that followed might have put the Angels on the board. But Monday, Trout's line drive found the glove of first baseman Casey Kotchman, who dropped the ball but tagged first for one out before catching Iannetta in a rundown. That ruling came much to the chagrin of Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who argued vehemently that Kotchman was late with the tag as Iannetta retreated to first, but to no avail, and Hunter's single left a runner at first with two outs, rather than first and third with one out and a run in.

Then there was the sixth inning, when the basepath bandit Trout led off with a single. On another night, the Albert Pujols single that came two batters later would have driven in Trout and perhaps Hunter, who smacked a ringing line drive to follow Trout's hit. But Hunter's line drive found the glove of Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Pujols' hit was futile.

"I caught a couple breaks here and there," Masterson said. "It's always nice to get those double plays. A few were not the typical double plays -- a few line drives -- but I'm not going to complain about that."

In the seventh, Masterson gave way to Joe Smith, handing the righty a two-on, no-one out jam with his team up, 3-0. Smith induced a deep fly ball to right and Shin-Soo Choo took a dubious route, but the ball found his glove. Smith followed that up with strikeouts of Erick Aybar and Iannetta to stem the rally.

"The key relief was Joe Smith," Acta said. "He did a fantastic job coming into that situation."

And though Pujols would ultimately put the Angels on the board with a two-run shot in the eighth, the Indians added too many in that ninth inning. Chris Perez was called upon with two on and no-one out in the bottom of the ninth and recorded three outs to tally his 32nd save of the year and the 100th of his career.

"Honestly it's just another day to me," Perez said of the milestone. "I don't look at numbers or anything like that. I was just happy to get the win for us."

Marson reached base three times to help pace the Indians' attack. One of those times was a line drive up the middle off Angels starter C.J. Wilson. Wilson reached for the ball with his pitching hand and was forced to leave after giving up three runs in 6 2/3 innings with a bruise.

Rookie Brent Lillibridge tallied his second career home run in the game -- a solo shot in the fourth -- and added another hit to become one of four Indians with a multihit game. Cabrera, Kotchman and Donald were the others.

The win snapped a 10-game road losing streak for the Indians.

Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.