It is the first Sunday baseball game of the year and the Indians were looking at a pretty big game at this early stage in the season. After being shutout in the previous two matchups against the Rays, the Tribe needed to win today’s matchup and prevent the extension of this three game losing streak and avoiding the sweep.
Justin Masterson took the mound for the Indians against last year’s Cy Young winner, David Price for the Rays. What unfolded was an ace-like start for Masterson, and a hungry Indians offense routing the Rays 13-0.
The Indians’ bats seemed to come alive early against Price. Michael Bourn led off the game with a double, and later with one out stole third base for his first steal of the season, but Ryan Raburn struck out and Nick Swisher flew out to center to end the threat.
Meanwhile on the pitching side of things, Masterson ran into trouble early. After picking up two quick outs to lead off the first inning, he allowed a Ben Zobrist single, and then back to back walks to Evan Longoria and James Loney to load the bases. Luckily, Masterson struck out Yunel Escobar to end the inning and avoid any damage. That was the only real threat the Rays had all game. The only other base runners Masterson allowed were a hit and a walk in the third before setting down the last 13 batters he faced in order.
In what should have been a sign of things to come, Mark Reynolds led off the second inning with a walk and then advanced to second on Carlos Santana’s single. Mike Aviles then grounded into a fielder’s choice at second putting runners at first and third with one out. Unfortunately, Lonnie Chisenhall couldn’t get it done either as he would ground into another fielder’s choice that forced Reynolds out at home putting runners at first and third with two out. But perhaps the biggest play of the game happened next when Drew Stubbs laced a two out RBI single to drive in the Tribe’s first run in 20 innings.
In the top of the third inning the Indians managed to get to Price again. Cabrera and Raburn led off the inning with back-to-back walks before Swisher made the first out on a fly out to left. Reynolds in the first of his big hits on the day, delivered a three-run homerun to center field for his third of the season, giving the Tribe a 4-0 lead.
The Indians went back to it again in the fifth inning when Raburn led off the inning with a double, then after two fly outs, Santana doubled and drove in Raburn putting the Tribe up 5-0. Aviles joined in with single, putting runners at first and second for Chisenhall, who connected for yet another 3-run homer, his first of the season, giving the Indians a 8-0 lead.
After that explosion, Price’s outing was over but the Indians’ offense was not. Reynolds kept his hot streak going with a with a solo shot off Kyle Farnsworth to start the seventh, his second homer of the game to put the Tribe up 9-0. Santana then followed that up with another double before Mike Aviles knocked a single into left plating yet another run and staking the Tribe to a 10-0 lead.
The runs didn’t stop there though as Bourn got in on the act hitting a solo shot off of Brandon Gomes to lead off the eighth inning, extending the lead to 11-0. However, the Tribe had one last offensive charge in them. In the top of ninth with Tampa Bay’s closer Fernando Rodney in, Reynolds laced a leadoff double before Santana connected for a two-run home run, his second of the season, around the right field foul pole making in a 13-0 game.
Joe Smith came on in the eighth inning for relief and got two quick outs before giving up a single to Ryan Roberts, the first Ray since the third to reach base but quickly got the final out to end it.
Pestano came in for the ninth inning to wrap it up but ran into some control problems. After a lead off strikeout, he allowed a single to Shelley Duncan. He managed to get a second out on another strike out before walking the next two batters to load the bases. Luckily, no damage was done as Pestano managed to get Jose Lobaton to ground out to end the game.
Masterson (2-0) earned his second win of the season after tossing seven innings, allowing no runs, on two hits while striking out eight and walking three. Meanwhile, Price (0-1) was saddled with the loss after tossing just five innings allowing eight runs on 10 hits, striking out three, and walking three.
Francona praised Masterson in his postgame interview, “We haven’t scored in two nights. We’re facing the guy who won the Cy Young. I think Masty really showed his colors. I think he felt a responsibility coming in. He used all his pitches. Probably his best breaking ball I’ve ever seen.”
The Indians head home for their home opener tomorrow against the New York Yankees at 4:05 p.m. Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 1.50) will take the mound for the Tribe against Hiroki Kuroda (0-1, 13.50) for the Yankees.
Photo: J. Meric/Getty Images