Masterson, Offense Ice Cold in Soggy Loss; Red Sox 8, Indians 1
Dale Armbruster | On 24, May 2013
After an evening full of standing ovations and video tributes to his manager, Justin Masterson had to know that he would not receive similar treatment from the Boston faithful.
He couldn’t have expected the “warm welcome” the Boston lineup gave him, however.
Masterson’s former team got to him early on the way to a 8-1 Red Sox victory over the Indians on Friday night in Boston. John Lackey struck out eight for the Red Sox (29-20) and gave up just two hits in seven innings. The loss drops the Indians (27-20) into second place in the American League Central for the first time since May 12.
Despite a 42-minute pre-game rain delay and a soggy playing field, both pitchers got out to a strong start, retiring the side in the first inning. The Indians threatened in the second after a Carlos Santana walk, but Lackey was bailed out when Jason Giambi grounded into an innng-ending double play.
Giambi went 0-for-4 on the night, dropping his batting average to .150. The veteran is now just 3-for-29 in the month of May with 6 RBI, good for a .103 average.
The Red Sox wasted no time in jumping on Masterson in the second. After a David Ortiz walk and Mike Napoli single, Mike Carp took a slider from Masterson deep to right field, giving Boston a 3-0 lead.
“I was hanging a lot of sliders, not getting through pitches like I want to,” said Masterson in the locker room. “We try and battle and work through it, [but] we were just a little off.”
Cleveland would strike back one bizarre half-inning later. With Mark Reynolds on second and Michael Brantley on first, the Indians pulled off a double steal. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw down to third, but the wet ball slipped out of his hand and was lofted into left field. Carp bobbled the ball, allowing Reynolds to score from third. An Asdrubal Cabrera groundout would end the Cleveland rally.
After the game, manager Terry Francona told reporters he was happy with the way his team executed the double steal.
“[Boston] wasn’t paying attention to him,” Francona remarked. “It was a great baseball play by Mark [Reynolds].”
Both pitchers would settle in after the difficult third, as neither team would record a base hit until the bottom of the sixth inning. Boston would be the beneficiary of another strange play, as one run came in on a 6-4-3-2 double play.
With the bases loaded, Napoli grounded to Cabrera, who quickly flipped the ball to second. Jason Kipnis’ relay throw was off the mark, forcing Swisher to miss the tag on Napoli. A quick throw from Swisher to Santana ended the inning as Dustin Pedroia was tagged out scampering for home.
Masterson’s night ended the next inning, when a leadoff double by Saltalamacchia led to the call to the bullpen. He would finish the night having given up five earned runs on six hits with five strikeouts. With the loss, he falls to 7-3 on the season with a 3.20 ERA.
Matt Albers would be unable to put out the fire, as Pedroia punched a single to right field, scoring two more. A Napoli groundout finally ended the inning with no more damage and an 8-1 Red Sox lead.
The offensive explosion ended Lackey’s night, as John Farrell brought in Koji Uehara to pitch the eighth. Brantley led off the inning with a double that would have normally hopped over the three-foot fence in right field, but the puddles accumulated on the warning track kept the ball from bouncing. The Indians would not muster another base hit, stranding Brantley.
Vinnie Pestano worked a scoreless eighth for the Indians as the Red Sox failed to record a base runner. Alfredo Aceves slammed the door on the Indians in the ninth, including a strikeout of Swisher. The first baseman would go 0-for-4 in his first game back off of the paternity list. Swisher’s wife, JoAnna, gave birth to their first child on Tuesday.
Francona reflected on the impact of the loss and the slide into second place. “Regardless of what happens, tonight’s game has no bearing on tomorrow,” Francona said post game. “That’s how we do it.”
Saturday afternoon’s contest will pit Scott Kazmir (2-2, 6.35 ERA) against Jon Lester (6-1, 3.15 ERA). Lester pitched a gem against the Indians on April 18, giving up just two runs in seven innings at Progressive Field. First pitch is set for 1:35 p.m.
Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images