May 13, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson (63) is relieved by Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (17) during the sixth inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Masterson Falters in 5-4 Loss to Blue Jays

A three-run seventh inning rally wasn’t enough to overcome a rough outing by Justin Masterson, as the Indians fell to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. Masterson started off strong, but fell apart in the sixth inning and was pulled after just 76 pitches. He struck out four, walked three and gave up six hits, including a fifth inning home run to Juan Francisco. Meanwhile, the Tribe put together just four hits and two walks against Toronto starter R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball, although he did allow four runs (two earned). The Indians scored first, on an RBI single by Nick Swisher in the third inning, but the Jays managed to quickly grab the lead and hang on to it.

Key Innings
Bottom of the 6th, Indians trail 2-1
After walking Melky Cabrera to lead off the inning, Masterson allowed a single to Jose Bautista on a play that should have been made by third baseman Carlos Santana. It didn’t count as an error, but it gave the Jays an extra baserunner, and they took advantage of it. Adam Lind doubled to score both runners. After striking out Edwin Encarnacion, Masterson gave up a run-scoring double to Francisco, and was quickly replaced by Josh Outman.

Top of the 7th, Indians trail 5-1
Dickey, who had been nearly unhittable through six innings, wasn’t able to shut down the Indians after his offense handed him a four-run lead. Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a single, and David Murphy reached on the fielding error by Brett Lawrie. After walking Yan Gomes to load the bases with no outs, Dickey hit Lonnie Chisenhall with a pitch, allowing a run to score. He was relieved by Aaron Loup, who gave up a single to Michael Bourn and a sacrifice fly to Nick Swisher, but managed to escape with the lead.

Top of the 8th, Indians trail 5-4
It seemed like the Indians might rally in the eighth inning, but Melky Cabrera had other ideas. Reliever Brett Cecil gave up a leadoff single to Santana, who then advanced to second on a passed ball. With two outs, Gomes hit a single to left field, and Santana was waved home. Cabrera scooped up the ball and fired it in to the plate, where catcher Josh Thole applied the tag in time. There was some controversy over whether Thole had blocked the plate, but the play was never reviewed.

The Positives
John Axford pitched a scoreless inning, throwing eight of his ten pitches for strikes. The bullpen as a whole pitched 2 2/3 innings and did not allow a hit, although Marc Rzepczynski did walk a batter. The turmoil over the closer situation does not seem to have made much of an impact on the Tribe’s relievers.

The Negatives
This is the second outing in a row where Masterson has struggled late in the game. In fact, his last start ended roughly the same way: a walk, a single and a double, and a trip to the dugout before the inning was over. Although he pitches extremely well during the first few innings, he’s either having trouble the third time through the lineup, or he is becoming fatigued during the later part of his outings. Either way, it could be a concern for the Indians if it becomes a pattern.

Check It Out
– The Blue Jays lead the American League in home runs, with 53. Six of those belong to Juan Francisco — who only has 75 at-bats this season. The Jays need his bat in the lineup, and that’s why third baseman Brett Lawrie is spending some time at second base.

– During Tuesday’s game, the Indians announced that catcher George Kottaras has cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Columbus.

– In more Clippers news, Trevor Bauer struggled for the first time this season on Tuesday night. In 5 2/3 innings against the Rochester Red Wings, he allowed six runs on three walk and nine hits, including four home runs in one inning.

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