Masterson leaves with injury as Indains fall to O's, 7-2
Strugges continue for Tribe offensively, as team awaits injury news
CLEVELAND—On a holiday dedicated to the working world, the Indians themselves took a day off on the field.
The struggling Tribe offense was at it again Monday, scoring just two runs on six hits to drop the first of a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles, 7-2.
In a city known for holding a heavy heart, the heart of Tribe fans skipped a beat when ace Justin Masterson (14-10, 3.52 ERA) left the ballgame in the second inning due to soreness on the left side of his rib cage.
“Guys want to pitch and they want to play, but we didn’t like what we were seeing,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It’s hard to quantify it right now, he’s our best pitcher. He’ll get scanned and we’ll know more tomorrow.”
The right-hander didn’t look himself from the outset Monday afternoon, giving up one run on one hit in just one inning.
“I don’t know how I did it,” Masterson said. “I felt really good in the pen and I felt only a touch of soreness. It tightened up on me and couldn’t get through a pitch. I was trying, but it wasn’t going to work.”
Selected as an All-Star for the first time this past July, Masterson leads the team in wins (14), starts (29), innings (189.1), and strikeouts (188) in this his fourth full year in Cleveland.
“I think it’s one of those things where it might be a couple days rest, but in my mind we’ll still be able to go on a path with the pitching that we have with a couple extra days this time around,” Masterson said.
“Hopefully the good Lord performs a miracle and touches my side, and that would be great. If not, it will also be great and we’ll work through it.”
With Masterson exiting early, Francona brought in reliever Preston Guilmet to try and do anything to eat up innings.
The tough task caught up to Gulmet and the Tribe, as he allowed two runs in the inning on a two-run double by second baseman Brian Roberts to but the O’s up 3-0.
“We didn’t swing the bats really well and we lost our pitcher in the second inning," Francona said. "When things don’t go your way you could either feel sorry for yourself, or you can find a way to shine. Whether it takes everyone in the bullpen, we just need to keep fighting.”
Given a five run lead early, Orioles starter Bud Norris (4-1, 4.01 ERA) cruised through his seven innings of work, allowing one run on four hits and striking out eight. It was his longest start since being acquired by Baltimore at the July 31 Trade Deadline.
“Had a scheduled offense against our offense,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said jokingly. “He caught us at the right time, and we’re trying everything we can to snap out of it.”
Since August 5, the Indians hold a 10-15 record over their last 25 games, scoring three runs or less in 16 of them.
“We’re digging our own hole right now,” Kipnis said. “Guys are trying. It’s almost been like we’ve been trying too hard and being counterproductive in a way. We want to hit that five-run homer with nobody on and we’re going about it the wrong way trying to do too much.”
Offensively, the lone Indians contributors were Kipnis and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, each connecting on solo homers in the seventh and eighth inning respectably. The Tribe second baseman tied Carlos Santana with his team-leading 17th long ball before Chisenhall lauched his third homer in his last 12 games.
Orioles catcher Matt Weiters put the game away in the ninth with a two-run jack off southpaw Mark Rzepczynski, ending his 12 1/3 scoreless innings streak. The Tribe reliever was the seventh arm Francona brought out of the bullpen Monday.
Despite their fifth loss over the last six games, Cleveland (72-65) remains 3 1/2 games in back of the second wild card leading Tampa Bay Rays with 25 games left in the regular season.
Even with postseason hopes hanging in the balance, the talk of the clubhouse remained on Masterson.
He’s our ace and the guy we count on,” Kipnis said. “He’s a consistent starter that we can throw out there to stop a losing streak. Masty is one of the more liked players in the clubhouse, and we all wish him a speedy recovery from whatever it is.”
Coming into Monday, Masterson was 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA in his last nine starts.
“It’s not the best case scenario, but what’s great is we have Corey Kluber coming back for us pretty soon,” Masterson said. “If it is any more serious that I think it is we have some good guys in place that can do some work.”
Kluber and outfielder Ryan Raburn are expected to be activated off the 15-day DL Tuesday.
Notes: The Indians will also purchase the contracts of relievers Vinnie Pestano, CC Lee, Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin before Tuesday’s game against Baltimore….Cleveland falls to 14-48 when scoring three runs or less.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I saw Tomlin pitch Sunday in Columbus. It was a treat! He pitched well and don't count him out for #5 spot in rotation next year.
Hagadone has been one of the biggest disappointments this season. He has all of the tools to be a dominant left-handed reliever. But it seems that he has the speed and movement on his pitches but locates them poorly, often leaving them right down the middle for home runs.