SEATTLE: Justin Masterson is 2-for-2. No, the Indians are not using him in the lineup, but he has made two starts and won both. Equally important, he stifled opposing hitters in both outings.
Saturday night at Safeco Field, the Tribe eked out a 2-1 win over the Mariners for its sixth win in a row, a feat made possible mostly by Masteron and the bullpen.
There was little difference in Masterson's domination of the White Sox in his first start and the Mariners in his second, except for this: He did not strike out a batter in his initial outing, whereas nine Seattle batters went down on strikes.
So is Masterson a strikeout pitcher?
""Sometimes,'' he said. "It's going to come and go. With my stuff, have the ability to go both ways.''
He meant that he liked batters to make contact early in the count. But if they went deeper in he count, he had swing and miss pitches in his arsenal.
""I was doing about the same thing,'' Masterson said, comparing his two starts. ""I got a little behind in the count from time to time, but I made some pitches. I made stuff happen.''
Saturday night, he was charged with one run -- let in by the bullpen -- and gave up four hits and one walk, throwing 111 pitches in 6 1/3 innings (He lasted seven against Chicago). In 13 1/3 innings, he has given up two runs.
""Masterson was terrific,'' manager Manny Acta said. ""His stuff was filthy. He pounded the strike zone with his sinker, and he had a good slider that both right-handers and left-handers were swinging over the top of.''
His most difficult moment came in the sixth, when he delivered a one-out wild pitch that enabled Chone Figgins to move from first to third. But Milton Bradley and Jack Cust went down swinging.
""You see that guy on third and you sday to yourself that he's not going to score,'' Masterson said. ""Sometimes that bites you in the booty, but tonight it worked out.''
Masterson didn't have many runs to work with, and the Tribe didn't have a lot of chances to score, but there was one.
Technically it was a rally, because two runs scored. But it bore little relationship to the Indians' 10-run inning on Friday night.
After three scoreless innings, Asdrubal Cabrera led off the third against Doug Fister with single and stopped at second on Shin-Soo Choo's bloop hit to center. Carlos Santana slapped a routine ground ball to the right side for the first out, but the runners moved to second and third.
After Travis Hafner was intentionally walked to load the bases, Orlando Cabrera floated a fly ball to medium left field. It was deep enough to score Asdrubal Cabrera, and left fielder Bradley intended to relay the ball to third, keeping Choo and Hafner from advancing.
But his throw was so far off line, it bounced in foul territory and rolled into the visitors' dugout for an error allowing the runners to take two bases, with Choo scoring and Hafner moving to third.
""It's a beautiful game,'' Acta said. ""Yesterday we score a ton of runs, and today runs are hard to come by.'' [ep
In the fifth, the Tribe loaded the bases with two outs, but Santana popped to the second baseman.
Seattle finally got on the scoreboard in the seventh. Justin Smoak led off with a long double to left center, and Miguel Olivo followed with a scorching ground ball to short. Asdrubal Casbrera went to his knees to snatch the ball and throw Olivo out without the runner advancing to third.
That play marked the end of the line for Masterson, who was replaced by Rafael Perez. He walked the first batter he faced, pinch hitter Luis Rodriguez, but struck out Brendan Ryan. Michael Saunders, the ninth batter in the lineup, followed with a bloop to center that fell in front of onrushing Michael Brantley, who fumbled the ball.
Smoak would have scored regardless of the muff, but Brantley was charged with an error, because Rodriguez got all the way to third. With two outs, Ichiro Suzuki tried to surprise the defense by bunting his way on, but Perez gloved the ball and threw him out easily.
Tony Sipp began the eighth by giving up his first hit of the season, a double by Figgins, but he retired the next three batters without allowing Figgins to reach third.
Chris Perez came in to close out the game in the ninth and retired the side in order to earn his third save of the year. He struck out two, giving Tribe pitchers 13 for the game. [ep