Justin Masterson threw a gem and Cleveland’s offense “went ham” (as the kids are saying these days) against David Price Sunday afternoon as the Indians thwomped the Rays, 13-0, to avoid a sweep and end their first road trip of the season on a high note before the 2013 home opener.
After a relatively quiet first inning—Tampa Bay loaded the bases against Masterson in the bottom of the first, but in this game any inning without a run counted as uneventful—the Indians got things started in the second. Mark Reynolds walked and Carlos Santana singled to put two on with nobody out, but a pair of fielder’s choices put Mike Aviles and Lonnie Chisenhall at the corners with two down. Drew Stubbs delivered with an RBI single to put Cleveland on the board.
The Indians kept on rolling from there. Mark Reynolds teed off of David Price for a three-run homer in the top of the third to make it 4-0. Then, in the fifth, No. 3 hitter (more on that later) Ryan Raburn led off with a double, then Santana drove him in with a double of his own. Two batters later, Chisenhall followed up with a three-run homer to make it 8-0 Tribe.
As if that wasn’t enough, Reynolds rocketed the first pitch he saw off of the left field party deck to lead off the seventh. Santana followed with a double, and Aviles promptly drove him in with an RBI single. The Indians went long twice more: Michael Bourn hit a solo shot in the eighth and Santana hit a two-run homer in the ninth.
Meanwhile, the Rays couldn’t get anything going against Masterson, who kept Tampa Bay’s bats silent for seven innings. Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano shut the door from there as the Indians cruised to an incredibly satisfying 13-0 win.
The Good: Can you say offense? Carlos Santana went 5-for-5 with a homer, two doubles, three runs scored and three RBI. Mark Reynolds went 3-for-4 with two homers, a double, a walk, three runs scored and four RBI. All told, the Indians scored 13 runs on 17 hits with five home runs. So it pretty much made up for the two previous shutouts.
Meanwhile, lots in the offensive ruckus was a fantastic start by Justin Masterson. The Tribe’s ace outdueled a reigning Cy Young winner for the second outing in a row, shutting the Rays out on two hits while striking out eight batters in seven phenomenal innings.
The Bad: Nick Swisher had an 0-fer night. Not a big deal, of course, but he was the only one without a hit.
The “Huh?”: Meet your No. 3 hitter: Ryan Raburn. Even when Jason Kipnis got the day off, if you had told me before Sunday that a minor-league signing would be the No. 3 hitter in a lineup that also featured Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrera, Mark Reynolds, and Carlos Santana, I would have thought you were crazy. What possible rationale could there be for letting a guy who had a sub-.500 OPS last year hitting at the top of the order?
Interesting Tidbit: Justin Masterson is just the third pitcher in baseball history to beat two reigning Cy Young winners in the same season, joining Bruce Hurst (1989) and Shane Reynolds (2003) in the feat (h/t Bob Toth).