CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Indians pitcher Justin Masterson wants people to know that this year is not just like last year.
In 2011, the Tribe spent a majority of the season in first place of the American League Central Division. Once the injury bug bit the team in the final weeks of the season, the Indians were left high and dry as they watched the Detroit Tigers get red-hot and go on to win the division.
Masterson says that this year is different.
“It doesn’t matter what they did to us at the end of last season because we’ve got a new season”, Masterson said.
It may have seemed like deja vu to some, watching the first place Indians sweep the Detroit Tigers at home in May, a feat they also pulled of last season. Indians Manager Manny Acta thinks the best is yet to come.
“Nothing that these guys do surprises me. I believe in these guys and we played good ball. We haven’t even played our best baseball yet” Acta said.
Masterson echoed that sentiment, saying that for a while last year, it seemed like everything was going their way. This year, he feels the team has been pretty even-keeled.
“What’s great about this year is that we’ve been decently consistent. I don’t think that anyone is playing out of their shoes,” he said. “We’re continuing to get better each time.”
Not only have they been consistent, but everyone is contributing on a nightly basis. “As a pitching staff, we’ve been able to keep it close, and our offense has been able to score that one or two runs we need to get the victories,” Masterson said.
One thing that was different for Masterson, was that he beat the Tigers for the first time in his career. Going into Thursday’s game, he was 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in 10 career games agsinst Detroit.
It was Masterson’s first win against the Tigers, and it was against one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
“It was good to pitch against him, he always does a great job and always makes for a fun time, even today,” Masterson said of pitching against Justin Verlander.
Verlander was so sharp on Thursday, that he even reached 102 MPH at one point.
“I tried to hit 102 the whole game it never worked!” Masterson said. “It’s impressive for him to be able to do that. He’s been blessed with such a great ability. I’m working with like one pitch and he’s got four hall of fame pitches.”
When asked if he feels there’s less room for mistakes when facing the Tigers ace, Masterson said, no. “When I face anybody I feel like my margin for error is small, it doesn’t matter who it is. You know that he’s going to go out and do well,” he said.
While Verlander has been pitching lights out all season, especially in his most recent outing, a one-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Indians ace has struggled.
“There’s been some inconsistencies but we’re getting on a role,” Masterson said. “It’s nice to have a good outing against a division rival. It’s exciting for us and I’m sure it gets the fans excited too.”
“We’re even more excited this year because it’s not like we (started) really high and now it’s going to even out, I don’t think there’s been much of a spike in anything just yet,” Masterson said.
The key word is yet… The best is yet to come…
There’s no doubt that fans are getting behind this team, as they should.