Justin Masterson pitched a complete game shut-out against the White Sox on Friday night. He has now pitched 18 shutout innings in a row.* And according to a tweet from my fellow ILP writer Ryan McCrystal, Masterson now has a 1.65 ERA in 8 career starts in sub-50 degree temperatures. (Temperature at game time tonight was 43 degrees.) For crying outloud, he hit 95 mph on his 110th pitch. He was on tonight. Either that or he just really really likes cold weather.
Masterson pitched exactly the way your ace is supposed to pitch. Out of 113 pitches, 81 were strikes. He had 7 strikeouts and allowed 5 hits, but each time one of the White Sox got on base, Masterson said, “You shall not pass!” Okay, he didn’t have Gandalf’s staff, but he was working deep magic just the same.
The Indians only managed one hit through the first 8 innings–a double by Michael Brantley in the bottom of the 2nd. Then in the bottom of the 9th, when it really counted, Michael Bourn hit a one-out double. Jason Kipnis got on base with an intentional walk (which is somewhat flattering for a guy hitting .125), and then with two outs, Nick Swisher hit a walk-off single to score Bourn.
Over the last five seasons, the Indians have a .454 record against the White Sox (if you look only at the last two seasons, it’s .389. Yuck). We have a worse record against them than against any other team in the AL Central. We have to get in the habit of winning against them if we have any hope of contending. The rain this week can’t completely wash away the embarrassment of two big losses to the Yankees, but perhaps two days off due to rain-outs gave the team time for a mental reboot.
*Note that this is the longest such streak by an Indians pitcher since Carlos Carrasco went 21 shutout innings in 2011. And then he got suspended and had Tommy John surgery and just got suspended again, so we’ll let the comparison end there.