Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – While the Indians bats still remain a huge work in progress, Justin Masterson was back to being just fine Monday night.
The Indians opening day starter went 7.1 strong innings, as the Indians got a much needed win over the Orioles at Progressive Field, topping Baltimore 3-1.
Masterson allowed a run on 7 hits, walking just one and striking out six. He threw 92 pitches, 60 for strikes, and drops his ERA to 4.12 in pushing his mark to 7-8.
The win was needed in a lot of ways. It stops a four-game losing streak, and also means they will not lose any more ground to the Tigers, who they will start a critical series with on Tuesday night.
They move back to 48-48 on the year, while the Orioles, who still won three of four in the series, drop to 51-45.
The Indians also finally got Chris Perez a shot for a save, his 27th of the season against just two blown saves.
Shin-Soo Choo started the fireworks after a fast few innings. He hit a two-run homer off O’s starter Tommie Hunter in the third inning to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
For Choo it was his 12th homer of the season and RBI’s 38 and 39.
Baltimore cut the deficit to 2-1 with two outs in the fifth. Masterson hit Ryan Flaherty in the left foot with a pitch. Omar Quintanilla followed with an RBI double — his first hit since being acquired from the New York Mets on Saturday.
Quintanilla made his first start as manager Buck Showalter gave shortstop J.J. Hardy a rest. Hardy had a cortisone shot in his sore right shoulder before the All-Star break.
Baltimore ran amok in the second and eighth.
Adam Jones doubled to open the second. After Matt Wieters struck out, Jones strayed off second on a ball hit back to Masterson by Wilson Betemit and was caught in a rundown. The Indians threw the ball around like a hot potato, but eventually got Jones. It was scored 1-5-6-5-4-6. Not your everyday fielder’s choice.
In the eighth, Nick Markakis hit a one-out single, finishing Masterson. Indians manager Manny Acta brought in hard-throwing Vinnie Pestano, but lefty swinging Endy Chavez lined a 2-2 pitch the other way into the left-field corner for a double.
Markakis hustled around third base as left fielder Aaron Cunningham picked up the ball and threw to shortstop Cabrera. He appeared determined to score when third-base coach DeMarlo Hale suddenly threw up his hands as a signal to stop.
Markakis did — halfway between third and home. By then, catcher Carlos Santana had Cabrera’s relay throw in his mitt. He tossed to third baseman Jack Hannahan, who applied the tag to Markakis, who hung his head as he trotted to the Orioles’ dugout.
Michael Brantley’s bases-loaded single off reliever Troy Patton made it 3-1 in the bottom half.
The Indians open a huge three-game set against the Tigers on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. Ubaldo Jimenez goes for the Indians against Doug Fister for the Tigers.
The Associated Press contributed to this story