Few fans think of leadoff batters as being valuable contributors to the offense in the late innings.
When it comes to having an impact later in games, the focus seems to go to the middle-of-the-lineup power hitters. That might be appropriate thinking when it comes to driving in runs, but someone has to get on base to drive in.
Michael Bourn has been doing his job of reaching base and scoring runs. He is carrying a .289 batting average, .341 on-base percentage and has scored 27 runs, a respectable total in light of the fact he has missed 24 games, mostly because a cut on his finger kept him on the disabled list for three weeks.
But he seems to get better as the game wears on. In the crucial late innings, from the seventh on, Bourn is batting .353 in 51 at-bats.
Asked if he likes those situations, Bourn said, “I’m not running away from them, that’s for sure. I just want to step in the box and get the job done.”
Two sides of a ground ball
Justin Masterson is tied with Felix Hernandez for third place in strikeouts among American League pitchers with 110, but he thinks of himself as a ground-ball pitcher.
And no wonder. He leads the league in inducing batters to beat the ball in the dirt with 170 ground balls. However, some of those ground balls find holes. Wednesday night, Masterson gave up nine hits, most of them bouncers through the infield.
Does he find that frustrating?
“It gets frustrating when I don’t make a good pitch and give up a [ground-ball] hit,’’ he said. “But when I make a good pitch and a ball goes through, I have the confidence to get the next guy.”
The Indians signed their fifth-round pick in the amateur draft, left-hander Sean Brady, 19, out of Ida S. Baker High School near Fort Myers, Fla. Brady went 7-1 with an 0.68 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 51⅔ innings.
The Tribe also signed infielder Garrett Smith, 23, the club’s 37th-round pick out of California Lutheran University.
Masterson’s win Wednesday night was his first since May 29. … Right-handed batters are hitting .182 against Masterson for the season. … Playing every day (while Asdrubal Cabrera is on the DL) is paying dividends for Mike Aviles, who has raised his batting average from .267 to .278 in his past 30 games.
Tim Fedroff had three hits, including his fourth home run of the season, and three RBI, as Columbus lost to Pawtucket 6-5 in Class AAA. Trevor Bauer was pulled after 3⅔ scoreless innings, having given up three hits. There was no indication that he had suffered an injury.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.