Justin Masterson had perhaps his worst outing of the year on Friday night, as the Tribe lost the second of a four-game series in Boston. The Indians dropped their fourth straight game, as the Red Sox handed them a 10-3 defeat. Masterson lasted just over two innings, giving up five earned runs on three hits and four walks. John Lackey pitched a strong game, striking out five batters over 6 2/3 innings. The Boston right-hander allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk, before the Red Sox bullpen held the Tribe scoreless for the remainder of the game. Cleveland’s relievers combined to give up an additional five runs.
Bottom of the 2nd, Indians lead 2-0
After Carlos Santana hit a two-run home run to right field in the top of the second, the Tribe had the early lead. Masterson walked David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to lead off the inning, before giving up a single to Daniel Nava. A.J. Pierzynski doubled to tie the game, before Jackie Bradley, Jr. tripled to center field to give Boston the lead. Although he escaped the inning with just a 3-2 deficit, Masterson would go on to walk the first two batters in the third inning before being replaced by lefty Kyle Crockett after just 59 pitches.
Top of the 3rd, Indians trail 3-2
The Indians seemed to have life in the third inning, when they responded to the Red Sox immediately. Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double, and Michael Brantley brought him home with a double of his own. It would later prove to be far too little offense to overcome the Tribe’s pitching woes.
Bottom of the 7th, Indians trail 5-3
Napoli’s two-RBI double in the third had given the Red Sox a substantial lead, but Dustin Pedroia broke it open in the seventh inning. After giving up a pair of leadoff singles to Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt, Marc Rzepczynski was replaced by Bryan Shaw.
Shaw allowed Pedroia to double to center field, scoring both runners, then intentionally walked Ortiz. Napoli, who was a problem all night, singled to right field. Pedroia scored on what was ruled as a fielding error by David Murphy, after the ball bounced away from him in the outfield.
Josh Outman came on and allowed another RBI double, this time to Nava, before finally escaping the inning. A solo homer off the bat of Xander Bogaerts in the eighth inning made the final 10-3.
Santana hit his eighth home run of the year, showing more signs of life in the batter’s box. In eight games since returning from his concussion, he has two home runs, six singles, and five walks in 33 plate appearances. While those numbers are not overly impressive, it’s a major improvement from his poor production before the DL-stint.
Something is wrong with Justin Masterson. He only threw 28 of his 59 pitches for strikes – less than 48 percent. When he faced the Red Sox just two starts ago, he struck out the side on nine pitches during a streak of 26 consecutive strikes. Maybe it’s an injury, maybe it’s a mechanical flaw – but whatever it is can’t continue if the Indians want to remain competitive this season. His ERA has skyrocketed to 5.00, and he’s not giving the Tribe any length, which is hurting their bullpen. The bullpen was equally terrible on Friday night, with relievers struggling with everything from command to inherited runners. It was definitely a game that the pitching staff will be eager to put behind them.
Check It Out
– The Tribe’s pitching staff threw 57.3 percent of their pitches for strikes tonight. In contracts, the Red Sox threw 66.2 percent strikes. The Indians walked seven, while Boston allowed just one free pass.
– Masterson is tied with the Phillies’ A.J. Burnett for the second-most walks allowed this season, with 43. They trail only former-Indian Ubaldo Jimenez, who has walked 45 men this season. None of those names are too surprising, but the pitcher with the next-highest total might be: Detroit’s Justin Verlander, who has uncharacteristically given up 39 walks so far this year.
– Boston’s Jackie Bradley, Jr. has taken away plenty of hits from the Tribe this season, along with just about every other team. In addition to robbing hitters, he’s limiting teams’ effectiveness on the bases. He leads the league in double plays turned by an outfielder, with four. He also has six assists, the fourth-highest total in baseball — behind only Brantley, Jose Bautista, and the Oakland A’s Yoenis Cespedes, who leads the league with nine.