CLEVELAND -- When the Cleveland Indians are playing at their best, the defense is playing errorless baseball and the pitchers are going deep enough into the game to rest the bullpen for match-up situations.
Then, when called upon to do so, the Indians' relievers are coming out of the bullpen and shutting down opposing hitters, just as closer Cody Allen did when he stopped the Red Sox from rallying with a 1-2-3 ninth inning during the Tribe's 3-2 victory over the World Champions at Progressive Field Monday.
Should the Indians continue playing at a high level at home, and reverse their fortunes away from Progressive Field, Cleveland center fielder Michael Bourn feels it starts with what happens in the center of the diamond.
"(It's) pitching," Bourn said. "There ain't no secret, man. That's baseball. If you've got good pitching, you've got a chance. I think we have a pretty good lineup, but if you have good pitching with a good defense behind it, you're always going to keep yourself in the ballgame."
Masterson joked that he was able to strike out 10 hitters because of the month of May fellow starter Corey Kluber had. Kluber struck out 60 hitters in May, and has created a competition within the starting rotation.
"We're just trying to punch tickets like Corey," Masterson said with his trademark smile. "That's all we're trying to do. He's going and doing his thing, so we're trying to keep up with him. He's still punching tickets pretty good though. He's got like a 100 strikeouts in May. We're still trying to get to his level."
Behind Masterson's quality start, the Indians improved to 28-30, and in doing so, moved back into third place in the American League Central Division, one-half game above the Kansas City Royals and just 5.5 behind the Detroit Tigers, whom they swept at the end of their last home stand.
"He threw a bunch of ground balls and we played a real clean game on a night when we had to," Indians, and former Red Sox, manager Terry Francona said of Masterson. "If we give them an extra opportunity or an error somewhere, we might still be playing or they might be ahead.
"He threw it down, and we picked it and made the plays. Kip (Jason Kipnis) made a couple real nice plays. Cabby (Asdrubal Cabrera) turned a couple nice double plays."
In addition to the defense, the Indians continued their four-game winning streak against a Red Sox starter in John Lackey, who allowed only three earned runs and eight hits in eight innings of work against the Tribe.
"If we're going to win, it's going to start with the starting pitcher every night," Francona said. "Lackey threw a great game tonight. He threw like 89 pitches in eight innings, and we scratched a couple early and got another one and hung on. He's one of the better pitchers right now. He's the Lackey of old.
"I wish we'd have gotten more (runs). Lackey's back. He's throwing the ball down. He works quick. He's always a pitch away from a ground out double play. He's a pretty good pitcher."