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Indians notebook: Justin Masterson takes to mound to test his side

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CLEVELAND: Indians starter Justin Masterson waited until all the kids had their postgame run around the bases Sunday at Progressive Field, then went to work

Instead of throwing a simulated game in the bullpen, he was asked to throw from the pitcher’s mound in the middle of the diamond to add realism.

With bullpen coach Kevin Cash standing in the batter’s box (but not swinging), Masterson delivered 24 pitches. Afterward, he reported that he felt no pain from the trained oblique that has kept him out of the rotation since Sept. 2.

“If he needs to repeat it, he’ll repeat it,” manager Terry Francona said of the exercise. “If not, he should be game ready.”

FAN TALK — The crowd of 26,168 was the largest Sunday attendance of the season at Progressive Field.

That might not send chills down the spine of the Tribe’s business executives, but it’s an improvement.

“The atmosphere in the park the last couple of days has been good,” Francona said. “It should be. This is a fun team to watch.”

With two home dates left in the season, attendance stands at 1,520,901. Unless the last two games sell out (they won’t), last year’s meager crowd total of 1,603,596 is beyond reach.

NOT EASY — The Tribe has gone through good times and bad this season, like all teams, but has shown a measure of resiliency.

“It’s a matter of staying positive and getting that piano off your back,” Michael Bourn said. “This is the first time these guys have played as a group, and we’re growing together. We have guys who like to play in big moments.”

TRIVIA PURSUIT — By winning four games from the Houston Astros, the Indians have swept six four-game series for the season, a feat that has not been accomplished since 1961, when the New York Yankees did it.

— Sheldon Ocker


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