Justin Masterson and Alex Cobb entered the evening as pitchers heading in opposite directions. Masterson had been sharp over his last six start,s allowing only 9nineearned runs in his last 42 innings of work and lowering his ERA from 5.40 to 3.92. Conversely, over his last six starts Cobb had struggled, going 1-5 with a 5.92 ERA allowing 25 earned runs in 38 innings of work. Unfortunately the trends flipped Friday night as the Rays handily defeated the Indians, 10-3. The loss drops the Tribe’s record to 43-40 and Cleveland now trails the Chicago Whites Sox by three games in the AL Central.
Justin Masterson (5-7, 4.40 ERA) was not sharp against an offensively challenged Rays lineup. He worked 4.1 innings and allowed eight runs (all earned) on nine hits while striking out seven and walking four. Nick Hagadone followed Masterson, allowed both runners he inherited to score, and was charged with an additional two runs in his 0.2 innings of work. On the positive side, Jeremy Accardo, Tony Sipp, and Esmil Rogers then combined to throw four shutout innings.
Alex Cobb (4-5 4.49 ERA) worked six innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out four and walking two. Kyle Farnsworth, Wade Davis, and Burke Badenhop each worked a scoreless inning to secure the Rays victory. The win improved the Rays’ record to 44-40. They remain in third place in the AL East.
Entering Friday’s action, Masterson had a first inning ERA of 6.88; he had allowed 26 percent (14 of 53) of his runs allowed and the opposition had posted an OPS against of .789 in the first frame. The Rays followed the script and jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Ben Zobrist‘s two-run home run score Desmond Jennings, who had led off the game with a single.
The Indians came back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first to tie the game. They loaded the bases with nobody out on singles by Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera and a Jason Kipnis walk. Travis Hafner grounded into a double play to plate Choo, and Cabrera scored on a balk to score the second run.
The Rays extended their lead to 4-2 in the third inning on a two-out two-run single off the bat of Brooks Conrad to score both Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton. They then put the game out of reach by scoring six runs on five hits and three walks off Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone in a fifth inning, highlighted by a homer by Luke Scott to snap his 0-for-41 streak.
The Indians cut the Rays’ a little bit in the bottom of the fifth inning on a RBI single off the bat of Choo to score Johnny Damon. Despite being down by seven runs the Indians didn’t quit—they just were unable to deliver key hits. They pressured the Rays in the six inning by putting two on with nobody out but Travis Hafner grounded into a double play to short circuit the rally. In the seventh they had runners at 2nd and 3rd thanks to an error by Rays second baseman Will Rhymes but Choo was unable to deliver the key hit. Jose Lopez doubled to leadoff the eighth and Jason Kipnis followed with a single to put runners at the corner with nobody out, but Travis Hafner struck out, Carlos Santana flew out to shallow center field, and Aaron Cunningham struck out looking to end the inning.
The Good: The top of the Indians lineup (Choo, Cabrera, and Kipnis) combined to go 5-for-9 with two walks and two runs scored.
The Bad: Indians pitchers allowed 13 hits and eight walks to a Rays lineup that entered the game with seven players hitting .240 or less and only three hitters OPSing over .700.
The “Huh?”: Yes, that was Jack Hannahan playing shortstop for the Indians. The roster currently doesn’t have a utility infielder on the roster; therefore, Manny Acta will use Jack Hannahan at shortstop in emergency situations and with the Tribe down seventh runs in the eighth inning why not get him the work? He has only 12 innings of shortstop in his major league career, plus 11 appearances in the minors.
Interesting Tidbit: Ben Zobrist’s homer in the top of the first inning was the first home run surrendered by Justin Masterson in his last 33 innings of work. The last home run he allowed was to Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning on June 9.