Justin Masterson Needs To Make Big Strides For Cleveland Indians To Make Playoff Push

By Matt Loede
Justin Masterson
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

As fast as it appeared that Cleveland Indians No. 1 starter Justin Masterson had turned his season around on Friday night at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox, it all went backwards again.

Masterson took the hill to try and stop a three-game losing streak, and instead of giving the team a lift, he wasn’t able to record an out in the third inning before being lifted in an eventual 10-3 loss.

Losing to the Red Sox is frustrating, considering how well they played against them in a three-game sweep in Cleveland just over a week ago. Masterson is making Indians fans pound their heads against the wall in 2014, never able to truly get on track in a season where it appeared he would and should be at his best.

The loss puts Masterson at 4-5 on the season. The loss came 11 days after he struck out 10 and dominated the Red Sox at Progressive Field. He again had major command issues, and once it was evident he was not going to regain his command, Terry Francona made the decision to go to the pen earlier than he ever expected.

He walked the first two batters in the second, and then in the third with the game tied, he walked Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia to start the inning. That was enough for Francona, who went to rookie lefty Kyle Crockett. Masterson said after the game that he wasn’t all that surprised he was pulled.

“I walked two guys on like eight pitches,” Masterson said to AP Sports Writer Howard Ulman after the game. ”It’s 3-3 at the time and it’s still a ball game. (Manager Terry Francona) doesn’t see any positive adjustment coming out of me. Why wouldn’t he take me out?”

The team has been patient with Masterson during his 2014 struggles, and they need to be able to count on him if they are going to make a run at the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. Outings like Friday don’t go a long way in giving the fans and team a lot of confidence.

That’s a major problem, and one that the Indians are hoping that changes quickly for the 2013 All-Star who just suffered the shortest start of his Major League career.

Matt Loede has covered the Cleveland Indians for 20 years for National Networks like AP Radio, Metro Networks and other local and national stations. Follow him on twitter @mattloede

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