It took 58 games, but the Indians were finally held to zero runs for the first time this season. It came at the hands of right-hander Kyle Lohse with a little help from his bullpen. Justin Masterson pitched very well, but the Indians lost 2-0 last night and have now lost in six of Masterson’s last seven starts.
Let’s start with Justin Masterson, who looked like the 2011 Justin Masterson on this day. But, just like that 2011 edition, he played the role of hard-luck loser. Masterson’s lone blemish came in third inning when he surrendered a two-out solo homer to left-center field off the bat of Carlos Beltran, his NL-leading 17th long ball of the year. Justin allowed 5 hits and walked no one while throwing just 90 pitches and striking out six.
More important than the result of this one game is if Masterson can duplicate this type of performance more often. The Indians rotation is in a volatile state right now. Pretty much each starter is in a 50-50 gem vs. blowout situation right now. Derek Lowe and Jeanmar Gomez have come back to Earth from their scorching starts, while Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez have each shown flashes of brilliance recently. If the Indians hope to hang around deep into summer and fall, someone will need to emerge as the ace again, and odds are, the most capable person for the job is Masterson.
As for the offense, there wasn’t much to speak of. Michael Brantley snagged the first hit of the game on a bunt single in the fourth inning after Carlos Santana had walked. However, Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman were unable to do anything with the two-on, one-out situation. The only other inning with two runners was the second where Damon reached on a fielding error and Kotchman walked. In the eighth, Asdrubal Cabrera was caught stealing by Yadier Molina to end the inning. Lohse’s sinking fastball was on all day and the Indians simply failed to make much solid contact at all.
In the bottom of the inning, Jeremy Accardo permitted St. Louis an insurance run with a leadoff double by Shane Robinson, a sac bunt, and then a sacrifice fly by Rafael Furcal.
The Tribe fell to 1 1/2 games back of the White Sox with Chicago’s victory over Houston yesterday afternoon. Today, Ubaldo Jimenez takes on Joe Kelly, making his major league debut. The Indians will look to avoid losing a series to the Cardinals for the first time in their history.
(Photo: Tom Gannam/AP)