Eight shutout innings vs Yankees

Justin Masterson was brilliant on Wednesday night – hopefully locking up a spot on the All-Star team once the replacements are announced. His gem was just the 7th time a Tribe pitcher tossed eight shutout innings against the Yankees since 1990, and the first since Billy Traber‘s one-hitter in 2003.

Unfortunately his high pitch count – a recurring problem with Masterson – ruined any chance at a complete game.

Player Date Rslt App,Dec IP H R BB SO Pit
Justin Masterson 2011-07-06 W 5-3 GS-8 ,W 8.0 3 0 2 6 112
Billy Traber 2003-07-08 W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 5 102
Bartolo Colon 2000-09-18 W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 1 13 114
Dave Burba 2000-09-15 W 11-1 GS-8 ,W 8.0 3 0 3 7 102
Bartolo Colon 1998-06-21 W 11-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 3 0 5 10 139
Charles Nagy 1995-09-13 W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 2 5 115
Charles Nagy 1992-06-12 W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 5 0 0 5 90

The ups and downs of June

It was a strange month for the Tribe’s pitching staff, as we saw some brilliant and some dreadful performances.

On the positive side, Carlos Carrasco emerged as a potential top of the rotation pitcher. After allowing five runs in his first start of the month against the Rangers, he allowed just four in his next five starts – good for a 0.98 ERA. Overall, he posted a 1.90 ERA in June, among the best in recent memory.

On the flip side, Fausto Carmona was awful, proving once again that he simply doesn’t have the mental makeup to ever be an ace. In five June starts, Carmona posted a 7.62 ERA – the worst in the month since Dave Burba in 2000. Dating back to May 19, Carmona is 1-7 with an 8.58 ERA.

Bartolo Colon shuts down Tribe

Bartolo Colon held the Tribe scoreless through 6 2/3 innings on Saturday afternoon, the first former Indian to shutout the Tribe in at least six innings since…. Bartolo Colon.

Colon’s last shutout performance came in 2005 as a member of the Angels. Over the past 20 seasons, Brian Anderson, Ricardo Rodriguez and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven are the only other former Tribe pitchers to accomplish the feat. Of the group, only Rodriguez tossed a complete game.

Prior to Rodriguez, you have to go all the way back to Mike Jeffcoat in 1989 to find the last former Indian to toss a shutout against the Tribe. Like Rodriguez, Jeffcoat’s performance came as a member of the Rangers.

Tomlin goes for 7th win vs Rays

Josh Tomlin takes the hill tonight against the Rays in search of his 7th win. Over the past 30 seasons, only eight Tribe pitchers picked up at least seven wins in the team’s first 50 games.

Tomlin’s 2.41 ERA also ranks as the 5th lowest through 50 games over the past 30 seasons. Amazingly, of the four pitchers currently ahead of him on this list, only Cliff Lee was selected to the All-Star game.

If Tomlin wishes to earn a trip to the midsummer classic, tonight would be a golden opportunity to throw his hat into the ring. He’ll be going head-to-head with Rays ace David Price, who shut down the Tribe at The Jake earlier this year.

Peavy shuts out Tribe 1-0

Jake Peavy out-dueld Tribe ace Justin Masterson, handing the Tribe a 1-0 defeat as they fall to 1-3 against the White Sox this season.

Peavy became just the 5th pitcher in the past 20 years to toss a shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Tribe.

Here’s a quick look back at the very odd group to accomplish the feat (click on the date for the box score)…

May 8, 2009Justin Verlander, Tigers – Verlander and Cliff Lee were locked in dueling shutouts until the 8th when Clete Thomas drove in the game’s only run with an RBI single. Verlander would allow just two hits and two walks while striking out 11.

June 17, 2001Todd Ritchie, Pirates – The Pirates were a full 21 games under .500 when the Tribe visited PNC park. Rookie CC Sabathia had allowed just one hit over seven innings, but was pulled after reaching the 100-pitch mark. Steve Karsay relieved and gave up a walk-off double to Aramis Ramirez in the bottom of the 9th. Ritchie scattered four hits, while striking out five.

April 14, 2001Steve Sparks, Tigers – It’s hard to believe one of the most dominant offensive teams in franchise history was held scoreless by guys like Ritchie and Sparks. Chuck Finley tossed a complete game for the Tribe, but allowed a run to score on a Bobby Higginson sac fly in the 1st inning.

July 15, 1998 Pedro Martinez, Red Sox – This was more of what you expect from a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. Martinez struck out nine while allowing just four hits. Bartolo Colon countered with a complete game of his own, but lost due to a Midre Cummings homer in the 5th.

How the new playoff system would have looked in years past

Bud Selig recently announced that a new playoff system could be in place in 2012 which would allow five playoff teams from each league. Each league would have three division winners who automatically advance to what we now call the Division Series, while the two wild card winners would face off in (presumably) a one-game playoff for the right to face the team that finished with the best record.

If this system had been put into place instead of the current system in 1994, it would have resulted in two additional trips to the playoffs for the Tribe.

In 2000 the Indians would have qualified as the second wild card team, facing the Mariners in the play-in game. The Indians could have started Jason Bere or brought back Bartolo Colon on short rest to face either Freddy Garcia or Aaron Sele.

Instead, the Mariners disposed of the White Sox in the ALDS before losing to the Yankees in six games in the LCS.

In 2005 the Indians also would have been the second wild card team, facing the Red Sox. The pitching matchup likely would have been Cliff Lee against Bronso Arroyo, unless the Tribe used CC Sabathia on short rest.

Instead, the Red Sox were swept by the White Sox in the LDS on their way to winning the World Series.

It will be interesting to see how this new system is perceived by the fans. Personally, I’m not crazy about it.

Take 2004 for example – the Red Sox won 98 games and finished with the second best record in the AL… but they trailed the Yankees. Is it really fair to force their season to come down to one game against the A’s, who won seven fewer games during the regular season?

One-game playoffs simply don’t work in baseball (unless absolutely necessary, such as in the event of a tie). In football or basketball you can make the case that the better team will win most of the time – that’s not the case in baseball.

In baseball, the team with the better pitcher wins most of the time, not necessary the more complete team.

Using 2004 as the example again, the Red Sox were clearly the better team, but in a one-game playoff Rich Harden (the likely scheduled starter for the A’s) certainly could have out-dueled Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling.

In a one-game playoff between great pitchers, anything can happen. It might make for one night of great TV, but would it really be better for the game in the long run?

Tomlin joins Masterson at 3-0

Josh Tomlin picked up the win on Saturday, joining Justin Masterson at 3-0.

Masterson and Tomlin are the first pair of Indians starters with three wins the teams first 14 games since Rick Sutcliffe and Bert Blyleven in 1984. Pryor to ’84, you have to go back to Milt Wilcox and Gaylord Perry in 1972.

Making their hot start more impressive is the fact that they’re doing it at such a young age. Tomlin and Masterson, both 26, join CC Sabathia (2007) and Bartolo Colon (1999) as the only Tribe pitchers to win three games in the team’s first 14 games while under the age of 27. And since 1920, the only other pair to accomplish the feat was Sam McDowell and Luis Tiant in 1966.