Pick your best "master" pun and apply it to Justin Masterson, because the Cleveland Indians' starter deserves it after his performance Monday night. He was masterful, a Jedi Master, the master and commander of the strike zone, the master of his domain. Whatever works for you.
In the big picture, Masterson pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, striking out 10 and helping the Indians to a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox, thus snapping Boston's seven-game winning streak.
There are a few really neat things to unpack from Masterson's stat line, however, so here it goes:
* In the fourth inning, Masterson achieved an "immaculate inning." Even if you don't know that name, you know the action — he struck out the side on nine pitches, all strikes. it's one of those things you pretend to do when you're a kid. Masterson is the 70th player to put together an immaculate inning, and the third this season. It's happened 74 times in history, because Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Sandy Koufax have done it more than once. Koufax actually did it three times.
* Masterson's immaculate inning was surrounded by a streak of 25 straight strikes, which lasted from the third to the sixth inning. That's not a record, but it's still plenty impressive. Bartolo Colon holds the record, having thrown 38 straight strikes in 2012. That was the most since 1998 when Tim Wakefield threw 30 straight, so this isn't a particularly common occurrence. Ervin Santana threw 20 straight strikes in a game earlier this season.
Masterson joking after the game: "I feel like I've probably thrown 25 balls in a row in one game so it's nice to throw 25 strikes in a row."— T.J. Zuppe (@TJZuppe) June 3, 2014
Perhaps Monday's performance can help Masterson get his season back on the right track. He had a disappointing 5.21 ERA with a 2-4 record coming into Monday night. Masterson's supposed to be Cleveland's ace, but instead he's on Jeff Passan's list of players who should probably be traded.
If that's the case, maybe Masterson's immaculate night at least boosted his trade value.
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