Another impressive performance could be just what Cleveland needs to get back on track.
Hoping to avoid opening 0-3 at home for the first time in 17 years, the slumping Indians renew their season series against the Chicago White Sox in the first of three Friday night.
Although things haven't gone the Indians' way thus far, Masterson (2-0, 0.69 ERA) has proven to be a rare bright spot. The right-hander gave up one run over six innings opposite R.A. Dickey in a 4-1 victory at Toronto on April 2, then struck out eight over seven innings of two-hit ball opposite David Price in Sunday's 13-0 win at Tampa Bay.
"He really showed his colors," manager Terry Francona told MLB's official website.
Masterson recorded 10 groundball outs and retired the final 13 batters he faced last weekend.
"The boys came out and they just bamboozled," he said. "They played good defense, made some good plays out there. ... And they were putting runs on the board, and it makes the job on the pitcher a lot easier."
Aside from Sunday's victory, though, runs haven't been easy to come by. Loser in five of six, Cleveland (3-5) has scored one or zero runs in three of its last five games, including Tuesday's 14-1 defeat to the New York Yankees .
The Indians, who also fell 11-6 the night before, saw the final two games of that series get postponed due to weather.
"When things come at you, you try to take anything that could remotely be a negative and turn it into a positive," said Francona, whose club allowed a whopping 31 hits against the Yankees. "So that's what we're trying to do."
The Indians are 0-2 at home for the fifth straight season, and haven't lost their first three in Cleveland games since 1996.
The White Sox (4-5), meanwhile, will try to avoid opening 0-4 on the road for the first time since 1978 after getting swept at Washington. Chicago had a season-high 13 hits but went 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position in Thursday's 7-4 loss.
The White Sox will try to bounce back behind Jose Quintana (0-0, 11.25), who's hoping to come out with better stuff after getting knocked around in last Friday's 10-inning 8-7 loss to Seattle. Tagged for six runs and eight eights, Quintana was pulled after pitching to seven batters and failing to record an out in the fifth inning.
The left-hander went 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in three games - one start - against the Indians last season.
Masterson is 4-5 in 15 starts against the White Sox despite a 2.76 ERA. No one in baseball has more at-bats against him than Alexei Ramirez , who's 6 for 37 (.162).
Indians catcher Carlos Santana , who suffered a bruised thumb after getting hit by a pitch behind the plate Monday, doesn't appear quite ready to return. He's gone 13 for 26 with two homers in seven games.
Chicago has won 28 of 43 meetings against Cleveland, including eight of the last 11.
The White Sox placed second baseman Gordon Beckham on the disabled list Thursday with a broken bone in his left wrist. He's expected to miss roughly six weeks.
Chicago will also be without pitching coach Don Cooper , who is still hospitalized with an intestinal illness.
|Alejandro De Aza||14||.357||5||0||2||1||0||.400||.757||.357|
|Chicago White Sox|
|April 10, 2013||Gordon Beckham||15-Day DL||Fractured hamate bone, left wrist|
|April 09, 2013||Gordon Beckham||Day-to-Day||Left game - nerve irritation, left wrist|
|March 22, 2013||Leyson Septimo||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|March 22, 2013||John Danks||15-Day DL||Recovery from left shoulder surgery|
|April 09, 2013||Lou Marson||15-Day DL||Cervical neck strain|
|April 06, 2013||Lou Marson||Day-to-Day||Cervical neck strain|
|April 03, 2013||Scott Kazmir||Day-to-Day||Sore abdominal muscle|
|April 02, 2013||Scott Kazmir||15-Day DL||Strained right rib cage|
|March 31, 2013||Frank Herrmann||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|March 25, 2013||Frank Herrmann||Day-to-Day||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
CLEVELAND (AP) -- On a pitching staff that's been battered and bruised, Justin Masterson is performing like an ace.
Cleveland's right-hander threw nine shutout innings and Nick Swisher 's two-out RBI single in the ninth gave the Indians a 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox on Friday.
Masterson, who has three of Cleveland's four wins, extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to a career-high 19. He hasn't allowed a run since the third inning on opening day against Toronto and pitched seven scoreless in his second start against Tampa Bay.
"It's going to end sometime, right?" Masterson said of his scoreless innings streak. "You have to go out and finish off innings, which is something I'm trying to do."
"It would have been a shame for us to not go out and get Masty that win," said Swisher, who hit the first pitch from reliever Jesse Crain to score Michael Bourn with the game's only run.
The Indians were outscored 25-7 in losing the first two games of a series to the Yankees. Scheduled games Wednesday and Thursday were postponed by rain, allowing manager Terry Francona to come back with Masterson.
The Indians' pitching staff had a 5.58 ERA through the first eight games and had allowed 16 home runs.
"It was fun," Francona said. "It would have been more fun if we had (scored) nine, but it was really good."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura was impressed with Masterson's performance.
"This is as good as I think I've ever seen him," Ventura said. "He was great today. And that's the story - he was great. His ball was moving all over the place."
Masterson (3-0) retired the side in order in the ninth and was given a standing ovation by the crowd of 11,864. That momentum carried into the bottom of the inning when Bourn started the rally with a one-out double off Crain (0-1).
Bourn's blooper landed near the left field line and he beat the throw to second base. After Asdrubal Cabrera 's groundout moved Bourn to third, Crain fell behind Jason Kipnis in the count 3-0 before an intentional walk was issued.
Swisher, one of the Indians' key offseason additions, hit the first pitch into right field and was mobbed by his teammates as the Indians won for the first time in three home games despite managing only three hits.
"The two stars of the game were Justin Masterson and Jason Kipnis ," Swisher said.
Masterson and Jose Quintana engaged in a pitchers' duel. Masterson allowed five hits and struck out seven. Quintana held the Indians to one hit in seven innings with seven strikeouts.
Masterson was assisted by his defense. Alex Rios hit a ball off the wall with two outs in the first, but was thrown out trying for a double by left fielder Michael Brantley .
Alexei Ramirez singled to lead off the sixth, but was thrown out attempting to steal second by catcher Yan Gomes . Paul Konerko doubled with two outs in the seventh - becoming Chicago's first batter to reach second - but Dayan Viciedo struck out.
Conor Gillaspie started the eighth with a double over the head of Brantley, who nearly made a running catch in front of the wall. Ramirez fouled off a bunt attempt that was caught by Gomes behind home plate. After a groundout moved Gillaspie to third, Masterson struck out Alejandro De Aza to end the inning.
"My defense was great for me," Masterson said. "I'm trying to stay under control and it really makes a difference when your defense makes those kinds of plays."
Quintana allowed one hit - Brantley's two-out double in the second. The Indians' only other base runner against the left-hander came when Swisher was hit by a pitch with two outs in the fourth. Quintana, who allowed six runs in four innings in his first start against Seattle, struck out seven. Matt Thornton pitched a scoreless eighth.
Cleveland activated designated hitter Jason Giambi (strained lower back) from the 15-day disabled before the game.
Francona said catcher Carlos Santana , who has been out since Monday with a bruised left hand, could be in the lineup Saturday. Santana, who is 13 for 26, is the only qualifying player currently batting .500 or better.
NOTES: White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a broken wrist and will have surgery on Tuesday at the Cleveland Clinic.... Chicago pitching coach Don Cooper remains hospitalized in Northern Virginia with diverticulitis. He'll miss the remainder of the team's 10-game road trip. ... RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka , pitching at Triple-A Columbus, left Friday's game against Indianapolis in the third inning after issuing five walks. The Indians signed the veteran to a minor-league contract before spring training. ... LHP Scott Kazmir , who is on the disabled list with a strained rib cage, threw a bullpen session on Friday. ... In other roster moves, LHP Nick Hagadone was recalled from Columbus, RHP Corey Kluber was optioned to Columbus and RHP Matt Albers was placed on the paternity list.