CHICAGO – Cleveland’s manager and players knew, Indians fans knew, the media knew. Justin Masterson? He insists he wasn’t aware of how bad his losing streak was.
“I honestly didn’t know it was 11 games until you told me right now,” he said after his skid ended with Friday night’s 10-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
“I knew it was getting up there. I knew it had been a while. But overall, I didn’t feel I pitched terribly, so I didn’t think about how long it was. I kept thinking I was on the right track, and that helped me stay in a good place.”
Masterson (1-5), acquired from Boston on July 31 in the Victor Martinez trade, said he had gained some confidence with his solid outing at Yankee Stadium his last time out. Still, he hadn’t won in 17 starts since beating the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 20.
“We’re a close-knit group, and as much as we try to not read the papers or the stat sheets, we’re aware of everything. It’s in our faces,” said left fielder Shelley Duncan, who saved two runs with a fine catch in the second inning. “So everybody is happy to get that win for him.”
Manager Manny Acta said Masterson got a “3,000-pound gorilla off his back.”
The streak-buster wasn’t pretty – five hits, six walks and two hit batters in 52/3 innings – but it finally gave the last-place Indians some good news.
They would have had a perfect game pitched against them Wednesday if not for an umpiring mistake. They were routed by Detroit the next day. And a few hours before Friday’s game, All-Star centerfielder Grady Sizemore underwent season-ending knee surgery.
The trip to Chicago came along at just the right time. The Indians are 7-3 against the White Sox, 13-30 against everybody else.
In losing for the ninth time in its last 13 home games, Chicago fell to 23-31.
“Bad pitching, bad hitting, bad game,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “This has happened to us all year long. We have a great game (Thursday’s 4-3 victory over Texas) … and then 24 hours later, we’re a very different ballclub.”
In games after victories, the White Sox are 4-19.
John Danks (4-5) took a 1-0 lead into the sixth but couldn’t get out of the inning. Shin-Soo Choo doubled, Austin Kearns walked and Russell Branyan singled before Jhonny Peralta – who had four hits and four RBIs – doubled off the left-field wall to put Cleveland ahead.
After Branyan was thrown out at home on Travis Hafner’s grounder, Duncan hit an RBI double and Luis Valbuena chased Danks with a run-scoring single to make it 4-1.
Danks, who allowed four runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, is 1-5 with a 5.05 ERA since going 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA in April. He has a 3-6 career record against the Indians, including 0-4 at home.
“This is the most frustrated I’ve been in a long time,” Danks said. “We have to do something different. It’s getting kind of old. We feel we’re way better than how we’re playing.”
The only run off Masterson came on Alexei Ramirez’s homer, but the White Sox had multiple baserunners every inning against him.
In the sixth, Masterson walked Mark Kotsay on four pitches and hit Carlos Quentin with a 2-1 delivery, but A.J. Pierzynski grounded into a double play on the next pitch. After Ramirez walked, reliever Frank Herrmann made his major league debut and got Gordon Beckham to fly out.
Herrmann was called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Columbus, where he had a 0.31 ERA and finished with a scoreless streak of 27 1/3 innings.
The 26-year-old right-hander immediately helped the AL’s most-generous bullpen (5.58 ERA entering Friday), retiring all four batters he faced. Jensen Lewis and Rafael Perez followed with a scoreless inning each.
Peralta made it 6-1 in the seventh with another two-run double. In the eighth, Kearns had a two-run homer and Trevor Crowe added a two-run triple.
Surgery ends Sizemore’s season
Sizemore, the Indians’ center fielder, will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee.
Sizemore underwent a 90-minute operation on Friday in Vail, Colo. The team says the procedure performed by Dr. Richard Steadman included microfracture, which involves the drilling of small holes into the kneecap to stimulate the growth of cartilage.
The Indians said Sizemore, a three-time All-Star, will need six to nine months to recover. He is expected to participate in exhibition games next March when the Indians open training camp in Goodyear, Ariz.
The loss of Sizemore is another major blow to the Indians, who are in last place in the AL Central and struggling to sell tickets.
To make room for Herrmann, the Indians designated RHP Jamey Wright for assignment. The 35-year-old righty was 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in 18 relief appearances.
• The Indians’ record for most losses in a row by a pitcher is 13, by Guy Morton in 1914.
• WHO: Cleveland at Chicago
• TIME: 7:05
• WHERE: U.S. Cellular Field
• PITCHERS: Talbot (6-4, 3.78 ERA) vs. Peavy (4-4, 6.30)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM