Masterson, Bats Struggle as Indians Lose 5-1


In the words of Michael Bluth, “I guess every vacation has to come to an end.” In that vein, Cleveland’s successful first road trip of the season ended on a rough note Sunday as the Indians (8-6) dropped the series finale against the Athletics (8-9) in Oakland, 5-1.

The Indians got off to a good start in the first inning with yet another two-out rally. Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner ripped back-to-back doubles off A’s starter Tyson Ross (both hits might have been home runs in a park smaller than the Coliseum) to give the Tribe a quick 1-0 lead.

Cleveland starter Justin Masterson started to run into trouble in the third, when he walked Jemile Weeks and gave up an RBI double to Cliff Pennington. The A’s struck again in the fourth as Seth Smith connected for a two-run homer, and Kurt Suzuki‘s RBI single in the fifth gave Oakland a 4-1 lead. It was all the Athletics would need.

The A’s scored again in the eighth, but the Tribe’s offense was still stuck in neutral. Ross recovered from his rough first inning and went on to throw seven strong frames, leaving Jordan Noberto, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour to shut the door as Cleveland fell, 5-1.


The Good: Rafael Perez has looked pretty shaky this year—he entered Sunday with a 5.79 ERA and just one strikeout in six outings this year. But he was quite solid against the A’s, throwing two shutout innings of much-needed relief. He held Oakland to one hit and got three strikeouts without allowing a walk.

Speaking of walks, it was another night of solid plate discipline for the Tribe. It’s hard to call it a good night for the lineup when your team scores only one run, but that Cleveland hitters worked six walks—including two from Lou Marson—was definitely a promising sign.

The Bad: It was yet another rough outing for Justin Masterson. He lasted just five innings, allowing four runs (all earned) on six hits, including Seth Smith’s home run. He got only two strikeouts, and most troublingly of all he allowed six walks. Clearly something isn’t right with the Indians’ ace.

The “Huh?”: Jose Lopez hit fifth…again. It was an easier pill to swallow Sunday than it was the first time it happened since Shelley Duncan had the day off and Jason Kipnis was hitting second, but even so I’m wary of putting a guy who had a 59 wRC+ last year anywhere near the middle of the order.

Interesting Tidbit: We’ve noted Jack Hannahan‘s proclivity for feasting on his former employers before, but it turns out it’s not just Oakland pitching that he destroys. After going 1-for-3 with a walk Sunday, Hannahan owns a .294/.371/.485 career line against his old teams (Detroit, Oakland, and Seattle). He’s hit just .221/.306/.334 against everyone else.

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