CLEVELAND — Starting pitching has been the problem for the Indians as of late, but their new-and-improved offense certainly hasn’t provided a remedy.
Cleveland’s lineup scored in just one inning Wednesday night at Progressive Field as the Red Sox wrapped up the series with a 6-3 victory.
Since beginning the season with two straight wins, Cleveland has lost eight of its last 11 games, while scoring more than two runs in just two of their last six.
More photos below.
Indians starter Justin Masterson’s outing began shakily, with the right-hander allowing the first five batters he faced to reach base — four on hits. Boston, which loaded the bases in four of the five innings Masterson worked, scored three times in the opening inning to snap the pitcher’s scoreless innings streak at 19.
He entered the night owning a sparkling 3-0 record and 0.41 ERA over his first three starts, but allowed four runs on 11 hits and five walks in five innings.
“I made some good pitches early on and they were able to put some balls where guys weren’t,” Masterson said. “I can’t be too upset because I made some decent pitches. They’re professional hitters and did a good job of it.
“They weren’t finding people. That was pretty much the biggest part of it.”
The Red Sox were patient and worked Masterson to the opposite field for much of his ineffective outing.
“They made him work really hard,” manager Terry Francona said. “Their approach to him was very good. They all stayed in the middle of the field or went the opposite way. He had to pitch out of a lot of traffic. He had to bob and weave, and he pitched out of it for the most part.”
The Indians trailed 5-0 before they were finally able to get to Boston starter Alfredo Aceves.
After leaving the bases loaded when Asdrubal Cabrera lined to right field in the fifth, Carlos Santana walked to lead off the following inning. Nick Swisher followed with his second home run of the year, a drive over the center-field wall on a 1-1 pitch.
Jason Giambi followed Swisher with a towering drive to right-center for his first homer and first hit as an Indian.
With the 430th homer of his career, Giambi, 42, became the third-oldest Cleveland player to go deep behind Sam Rice (44) in 1934 and Dave Winfield (43) in 1995.
Once the Indians got to Boston’s bullpen, they had no chance. A trio of relievers — right-handers Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Andrew Bailey — held Cleveland hitless over the final three innings.
Tazawa relieved Aceves in the sixth and retired three straight before striking out the side in the seventh. Uehara struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth, while Bailey accomplished the same feat in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
One of Cleveland’s biggest offensive contributors in the past, Cabrera, a two-time all-star shortstop, is scuffling at the plate. He is batting just .118 (6-for-51) with two homers, three RBIs and a whopping 16 strikeouts.
It’s a surprising start for a player that said he was in the best shape of his life this spring.
“He looks to me like he’s OK,” said Francona, whose club went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. “He’s been through this. He’s played a lot of baseball. As cold as he is through maybe 50 at-bats, his next 50 he’ll be just that hot. That’s just the way it is with good players. And he’s every bit of that.”