While his name isn’t likely to come up in Cy Young chatter, Justin Masterson has already gotten the best of both of last year’s winners.
Another impressive performance could be just what Cleveland needs to get back on track.
Hoping to avoid opening 0-3 at home for the first time in 17 years, the slumping Indians renew their season series against the Chicago White Sox in the first of three Friday night.
Although things haven’t gone the Indians’ way thus far, Masterson (2-0, 0.69 ERA) has proven to be a rare bright spot. The right-hander gave up one run over six innings opposite R.A. Dickey in a 4-1 victory at Toronto on April 2, then struck out eight over seven innings of two-hit ball opposite David Price in Sunday’s 13-0 win at Tampa Bay.
“He really showed his colors,” manager Terry Francona told MLB’s official website.
Masterson recorded 10 groundball outs and retired the final 13 batters he faced last weekend.
“The boys came out and they just bamboozled,” he said. “They played good defense, made some good plays out there. … And they were putting runs on the board, and it makes the job on the pitcher a lot easier.”
Aside from Sunday’s victory, though, runs haven’t been easy to come by. Loser in five of six, Cleveland (3-5) has scored one or zero runs in three of its last five games, including Tuesday’s 14-1 defeat to the New York Yankees.
The Indians, who also fell 11-6 the night before, saw the final two games of that series get postponed due to weather.
“When things come at you, you try to take anything that could remotely be a negative and turn it into a positive,” said Francona, whose club allowed a whopping 31 hits against the Yankees. “So that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The Indians are 0-2 at home for the fifth straight season, and haven’t lost their first three in Cleveland games since 1996.
The White Sox (4-5), meanwhile, will try to avoid opening 0-4 on the road for the first time since 1978 after getting swept at Washington. Chicago had a season-high 13 hits but went 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position in Thursday’s 7-4 loss.
The White Sox will try to bounce back behind Jose Quintana (0-0, 11.25), who’s hoping to come out with better stuff after getting knocked around in last Friday’s 10-inning 8-7 loss to Seattle. Tagged for six runs and eight eights, Quintana was pulled after pitching to seven batters and failing to record an out in the fifth inning.
The left-hander went 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in three games - one start - against the Indians last season.
Masterson is 4-5 in 15 starts against the White Sox despite a 2.76 ERA. No one in baseball has more at-bats against him than Alexei Ramirez who’s 6 for 37 (.162).
Indians catcher Carlos Santana who suffered a bruised thumb after getting hit by a pitch behind the plate Monday, doesn’t appear quite ready to return. He’s gone 13 for 26 with two homers in seven games.
Chicago has won 28 of 43 meetings against Cleveland, including eight of the last 11.
The White Sox placed second baseman Gordon Beckham on the disabled list Thursday with a broken bone in his left wrist. He’s expected to miss roughly six weeks.
Chicago will also be without pitching coach Don Cooper, who is still hospitalized with an intestinal illness.