With Masterson in the dugout after another brilliant performance, the Indians finally found some offense to get the right-hander a much-deserved 1-0 win over the White Sox.
Fan favorite Nick Swisher won it with a two-out single to right in the ninth inning that scored Michael Bourn from third, but Masterson deserved nearly all the credit for Cleveland’s second win in the last seven games.
“He threw an obscene amount of strikes. It was fun to watch,” manager Terry Francona said of the right-hander, who has won his first three starts of the season, while allowing just one earned run over 22 innings. “It would have been funner if we would have had nine (runs), but it was really good.
“Right now, he’s just throwing everything for strikes.”
Masterson extended his scoreless streak to a career-high 19 innings, blanking the White Sox on five hits over nine innings, while striking out seven and walking just one. His three wins lead the majors.
“It’s going to end sometime, right?” Masterson said of the scoreless streak. “You just have to go out and finish off each inning, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.
I’m just trying to stay under control. The guys are playing great defense behind me.”
They weren’t, however, doing much hitting.
As good as Masterson was, Chicago’s starter, left-hander Jose Quintana, may have been better. Quintana matched his counterpart’s scoreless effort and allowed just a hit while striking out seven, but he lasted only seven innings.
“He’s got that little cutter and he was really commanding his fastball,” Francona said. “He pitched a really good game.”
Chicago advanced just one baserunner to third in Conor Gillaspie, who led off the eighth with a double. Masterson stranded him there after he struck out Alejandro De Aza to end the inning.
Cleveland, which had only three hits, advanced just one runner to second through eight innings — Michael Brantley’s two-out double in the second. The Indians didn’t get another hit until Bourn’s one-out double in the decisive ninth inning.
“No one was doing much of nothing,” Swisher said. “You had two great pitchers out there doing their thing. For us to be able to pull that out was great. It was a huge win for us — just awesome amazingness.”
Bourn advanced to third base on a ground out from Asdrubal Cabrera that left the Indians down to their final out of the inning.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis followed with a quality at-bat in which he worked the count to 3-0 off right-hander Jesse Crain before Chicago chose to walk him to put runners on first and third for Swisher.
Swisher lined the first pitch he saw from Crain just inside the right-field foul line to extend his hitting streak at Progressive Field to 19 games and touch off the first postgame celebration in Cleveland.
“That’s kind of a guessing game there,” Francona said of Swisher’s hack at the first pitch. “I didn’t care where that ball went, as long as it landed fair. However we win is good. As long as they’re playing music and shaking hands … but that was good.”
Swisher deflected credit to others for the win.
“To me, there were two stars in that game,” Swisher said. “No. 1, Justin Masterson, and No. 2, Jason Kipnis. I’m so proud of him. He showed a lot of maturity in that at-bat. For me, I was just trying to get a fastball over the plate.
“It would have been a shame for us to not go out and get Masty that win.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.
• WHO: Cleveland vs. White Sox
• TIME: 4:05 p.m.
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: McAllister (0-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Sale (1-0, 1.84)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM