Justin Masterson threw seven scoreless innings for the Cleveland Indians in their 2-0 win over the Oakland Athletics Monday.
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson may not have a victory to show for it, but he threw seven stellar innings and worked his way out of several jams despite not getting any offensive support in the Tribe's 2-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics at the O.co Coliseum.
Masterson tossed seven innings of no-run, three-hit baseball, and stranded four Oakland runners in the victory, which the Indians posted thanks to a two-run ninth inning.
"I tried to be nice and easy, pound the strike zone as much as I could and did a pretty good job of that," Masterson said. "I got a lot of early swings out of them, and it was great defense, a lot of ground balls, some fly balls out there, and the guys were making great plays for me, so that's all you can ask for.
"Pitching-wise, it's mixing and matching, trying to (them) figure out. These guys are very patient, so I usually get behind in the count. The last year, I was able to get ahead in the count. It allows them to swing early and me to get away with some pitches. Really, that works in my favor when I'm able to throw strikes, and I think that's probably the biggest thing that's helped me to have a little success."
Despite striking out only four batters through the seven innings, Masterson was dominant, as he set down the Athletics in order in four of the seven frames he worked. And when he needed to, Masterson was able to work his way out of jams in the second and sixth innings.
"He worked ahead," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He had good two-seam movement. I thought he showed enough with his four-seamer to get them off of it. A couple times he got into a jam, he worked out of it. I thought he was really good."
After getting the first five outs of the game, Masterson gave up a double down the right field line to Oakland catcher John Jaso. However, following the sharply-hit double, Masterson shut the door on the A's and induced a fly ball out to left field.
In the sixth inning, Masterson surrendered a five-pitch lead-off walk to the No. 9 hitter in Oakland's lineup, second baseman Eric Sogard. Then, Oakland's lead-off hitter, former Indian Coco Crisp, dropped a sacrifice bunt down the first base line to advance Sogard to second base.
Oakland's Josh Donaldson singled to center field, which moved Sogard down to third base, and later, advanced to second base on a passed ball that bounced out of the glove of Indians catcher Yan Gomes.
That was when Masterson buckled down and stymied Oakland's offense, as he fielded a line drive off the heel of his glove and held the runners on base before throwing over to first baseman Nick Swisher for the second out of the inning. Then, he got Brandon Moss to fly out for the final out.
"He was unbelievable," reliever Cody Allen said of Masterson. "He did exactly what we all thought he would do. He did it all spring. The guy's just filling up the strike zone, kept his pitch count down. They didn't really have any momentum at any point in the game until we got into the bullpen. He was just outstanding.
"It's very, very good, especially after what he did last year for us. I've been watching him all spring just mowing through everybody. It was effortless for him, so when you've got the big guy on the mound, it's a good feeling."
Swisher added, "He's good man, I know that, and that's why he's our No. 1. To be able to have a guy like that go out, no jitters, no nerves, go out there and pound the strike zone, go out there and do what he does best, and that's getting guys out, just to get a quality start out of him definitely took a lot of pressure off of us as hitters."