Nine final thoughts after the Indians struck out nine times in a dramatic loss at Rogers Centre.
1. Through three innings, Justin Masterson was better than ever, throwing 27 pitches and retiring seven of the nine Blue Jays on infield outs. But then he admitted the Blue Jays adjusted to his sinker and he failed to counter. He continued to pound the sinker when he should have been adding some sliders and a few other pitches to keep the Jays guessing.
2. “We made a few unintelligent (decisions) as we went along. We’re usually smarter than that,” Masterson said, including catcher Yan Gomes. “We just didn’t use that today. They took some good swings, too, we’ve got to give them credit also.”
3. Gomes played in his 164th career game Tuesday. That’s barely a full major league season. I wonder how much his relative inexperience played a part in the counter-moves Masterson failed to make. But it’s hard to blame Gomes when Masterson is 29, with over five major league seasons under his belt.
4. Wondering if opponents are catching on to the fact that Masterson's velocity has lost one or two mph. Also wondering if Masterson wishes he’d accepted the Indians’ contract extension this spring. But there's still plenty of time for him to get back on track. And he's not alone in that regard.
5. Masterson said he wasn’t thrown off by the fast pace of the 2:29 game. Jays’ right-hander R.A. Dickey works quickly – going into Tuesday he was the second-fastest pitcher in the majors at 18.6 seconds between pitches. But Masterson said he didn’t go into hurry-up mode, or worry about Dickey’s knuckleball being tough on Tribe batters.
6. “Not really. I don’t think it adds much pressure,” Masterson said. “I always believe in the guys that we’ve got. He can hang a couple knucklers that maybe don’t knuckle the way he wants them to like any pitcher. We’re not robots. Maybe the hitters think about it a little bit more. As a pitcher you’re just going out there to try and do your thing.”
7. Indians manager Terry Francona said Dickey didn’t do anything differently against the Tribe. “We know what he’s going to do,” Francona said. “He’s going throw that knuckleball, throw an occasional fastball to get ahead or to surprise you. He’s pretty good. He lost the strike zone a little bit and we got our runs, we just couldn’t get one big hit.”
8. John Axford made his first appearance for the Indians since losing his closer’s job last week and retired the Jays 1-2-3 in the seventh on two ground balls and a strikeout. “The last thing we want to do is run away from him,” Francona said. “That was real good to see.”
9. After Carlos Santana was thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning with what would have been the tying run, Francona came out to talk to home plate umpire Jordan Baker, stalling while the Indians’ replay man took a look inside the clubhouse. If Francona had any problem with the way Jays’ catcher Josh Thole set up for left fielder Melky Cabrera’s throw, he should have challenged no matter what the replay showed. But Francona, who had just discussed the new home-plate collision rule before the game and how it's still a work in progress, elected not to challenge. Perhaps Baker told Francona he didn't have an issue with Thole's positioning while they were waiting.