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Cleveland Indians

Masterson fails against Athletics

By Sheldon Published: September 18, 2009

OAKLAND, Calif.: The Athletics are a team in pain. ¶
They play in a ballpark etched with yard markers, owing to the presence of the Oakland Raiders. Their roster is filled with players who might be future stars or future stiffs, and nobody comes to watch. ¶
Check that: Attendance Thursday night was 10,873, but that figure is represents tickets sold not bodies in the seats. Say one thing for the estimated 3,000 who showed up, they had a good time watching their team hand the Indians their 14th loss in the past 17 games. ¶
The score was 5-2, and Justin Masterson suffered through one of his poorer starts. ¶
Masterson was in trouble from the outset, giving up a double to Adam Kennedy, who led off in the first inning. Two ground balls later, Kennedy scored, but Masterson allowed no further damage in that inning. ¶
But he limped through the third inning, which began with a walk to Cliff Pennington. Kennedy followed with his second double, scoring Pennington. Two more runs would follow before Masterson retired the side. ¶
Masterson achieved temporary relief by striking out Rajai Davis, but he walked Ryan Sweeney to put runners on first and second, and Kurt Suzuki hammered a drive over the center field wall for a three-run homer that gave Oakland a 5-0 lead. ¶
One out later, Jack Cust and Mark Ellis singled, but Masterson induced Daric Barton to bounce to second to finally retire the side. Two more batters reached in the fourth, but Masterson held the line. ¶
Manager Eric Wedge elected to go to his bullpen after the fourth inning, because Masterson had already thrown 93 pitches. Moreover, he did not have anything close to satisfactory command (he walked four), though he did have good enough stuff to strike out six. ¶
Among the Athletics roster of largely anonymous pitchers, Clayton Mortensen has the distinction of coming to Oakland in the deal that sent Matt Holliday to the Cardinals. That means he should be a serious prospect. ¶
He began the sedason at Memphis, St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate and spent time at Sacramento, the A's Triple-A farm team. He was summoned to Oakland in August and made three starts before Thursday night (He also started a game for the Cards in June). ¶
Though his earned-run average coming in was a disappointing 6.88, Mortensen began to show promise in his last start, against the Twins, whom he held to one run in six innings for his first major-league win. ¶
Mortensen found the going easy against the Tribe. In five innings, he allowed just one run and four hits, walking three. ¶
He got in trouble in the second but only because he walked two and gave up an infield single to load the bases with two outs. ¶
The Tribe did not threaten again until the fifth, when Lou Marson led off with a single and scored on Trevor Crowe's triple. Michael Brantley's ground out brought Crowe to the plate, but Mortensen stopped the bleeding right there, although he allowed a single to Shn-Soo Choo before retiring the
side. ¶
Was it Mortensen's excellence or the Tribe's incompetence? Four A's relievers followed Mortensen to the mound, and all of them put a chill into the Indians' attack, giving up two hits and a walk in four innings. ¶
A succession of relievers -- Jensen Lewis, MIke Gosling, Jose Veras -- kept a lid on the Oakland attack, which produced only one hit off the Tribe bullpen. ¶

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