Marson's slam helps Masterson, Tribe win
Catcher's blast caps Cleveland's five-run sixth inning
ANAHEIM -- Despite Lou Marson's .189 batting average entering Tuesday's game against the Angels, Indians manager Manny Acta insisted before the game that the young catcher could hit.
He pointed to Marson's Minor League track record and maintained that he is a much better offensive player than he's showed so far in his short Major League career.
Well, Marson didn't waste any time proving his manager right by connecting on his first career grand slam on a night when Justin Masterson did the rest by shutting down the Angels' offense for seven innings in a 6-1 win at Angel Stadium.
"Lou has struggled offensively pretty much the whole season but that was a huge at-bat," Acta said of Marson' sixth-inning blast. "He was ahead of the count there and tried to get the ball to the outfield with some good wood and ended up picking up a few RBIs in that one at-bat."
Those four RBIs on one swing proved to be a career high for Marson and also provided the Indians with plenty of run support for Masterson, who dominated the Angels for seven innings.
It was also part of a big sixth inning in which the Indians went deep twice, as Travis Hafner was the first to connect when he lead off the inning with a homer -- which was upheld by instant replay -- off right-hander Trevor Bell that landed on the top of the scoreboard in right field.
Reliever Francisco Rodriguez then replaced Bell after Matt LaPorta flied out to the warning track in left field for the first out, but Jordan Brown singled before Jason Donald and Luis Valbuena walked to load the bases. Marson then made the Angels pay with his third home run of the season coming on a 1-0 fastball from Rodriguez.
"It was a fastball he left up," Marson said with a grin. "It feels good obviously. It was my first career grand slam, so it's a good feeling."
The homer provided plenty of offense considering Masterson was certainly on his game, as he allowed just one run on six hits with five strikeouts over seven frames to pick up his sixth win of the season. It's been part of an impressive run for the young right-hander -- he's 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA over his previous seven outings.
"It's been good control of my mechanics and pounding the zone," Masterson said of his recent success. "There's not much to it other than that. I've been getting in good counts early and getting guys to swing at pitches they might not swing at."
As impressive as it was, baffling Angels hitters was also nothing new for Masterson. He improved to 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA against the Halos in seven career appearances, including four starts.
It's also been nothing new for the struggling Angels, as they have totaled just 21 runs over their past 11 games and are just 3-8 over that span.
Torii Hunter provided the Angels with their lone run with a solo homer in the fifth inning off Masterson to tie the game at 1. But the Indians had scored the first run of the game in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Shin-Soo Choo to bring home Michael Brantley, who singled earlier in the inning to extend his hitting streak to a career-best nine games.
"We did not come ready to to play today," Hunter said of the Angels. "Not taking nothing away from Masterson -- he had his two-seamer working. It seemed like we didn't come with it today at all."
With the win, the Indians won their first series at Angel Stadium since May 9-11, 2005, when they took two out of three. They also improved to 4-2 on their current seven-game road trip with a chance to sweep the Angels on Wednesday. It's all part of the Indians' goal of trying to finish the season strong despite the fact they're out of playoff contention.
"There's been some learning early on and now we're trying to put it together," Masterson said. "We want to carry momentum into the next season."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.