July 31, 2014

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Full-house flop: Indians fall flat in front of sell-out crowd, open big Tigers series with shutout loss

CLEVELAND — The Indians picked a bad night to lay one of their biggest eggs of the season.

With a packed house at Progressive Field on Friday night — Cleveland’s first sell-out crowd since the home opener — the first-place Detroit Tigers in town and ace Justin Masterson on the mound, all the fixings were present for a big-time celebration.

Instead, it served only as a pity party for the Indians, who were drubbed 7-0 by the Tigers in the opener of a four-game series.
Masterson set the early tone for what wound up being a disappointing defeat for Cleveland, allowing six runs on seven hits, while failing to last five innings.

To make matters worse, the right-hander didn’t appear fazed by his failure on the big stage, making light of his subpar effort by saying the shaving of a light beard threw off his pitching mechanics.

“It’s always disappointing when you lose,” said Masterson, who fell to 10-7 with a 3.78 ERA in 19 starts. “If I would have given up six and we won, I would think that’s great. It’s always disappointing when you don’t win.”

The Tigers opened the scoring with two runs in the second inning on a two-out single from light-hitting No. 9 hitter Ramon Santiago, who entered the game hitting .169.

Detroit added another run in the third before breaking it open with three in the fifth to go up 6-0 on an RBI single from Victor Martinez and a two-run double from Jhonny Peralta — both ex-Indians.

“He wasn’t locating great,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of Masterson. “That’s kind of the night it was. They just kept adding on.”

Santiago entered the at-bat 1-for-14 against Masterson, while Peralta was at 1-for-17 in his career off Cleveland’s top starter.

“I was just flying open all day,” Masterson said of his mechanical flaw. “If the sinker’s up, anybody can hit it.”
Francona said Masterson’s slider was also off the mark.

“He didn’t have his real sharp breaking ball tonight,” he said. “When you don’t have your A Game with that lineup …”
It was a big night for Martinez and Peralta, who combined to drive in more than half of Detroit’s runs. The Tigers’ big guns, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, were held relatively in check, with Cabrera producing the only hit — an RBI single in the third.

Cleveland mustered nothing off right-hander Rick Porcello, who entered the night with a bulky 5.21 ERA.
Porcello didn’t allow a run over seven innings and just five hits, while striking out six.

“He worked ahead,” Francona said of Porcello, who lost his last three starts prior to Friday. “He threw strike one. He reached back for extra velocity when he needed it, which set everything else up.”

About the only offensive highlight of the game for Cleveland came in the sixth inning when second baseman Jason Kipnis singled to extend his career-high hitting streak to 16 games.

Kipnis has reached base in 36 straight games — the longest streak since Martinez reached in 45 consecutive games for Cleveland over the 2005 and ’06 seasons.

As expected, the Indians made a move after the game, promoting right-hander Carlos Carrasco from Triple-A Columbus to start today against the Tigers. Reliever Joe Martinez, who worked three innings Friday night, was optioned back to Columbus.
A crowd of 40,167 fans watched, accounting for the first non-home opener sellout since 2011.

Detroit improved to 7-2 against the Indians this season, winning all three of the games at Progressive Field.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

TODAY

* WHO: Cleveland vs. Detroit
* TIME: 4:05 p.m.
* WHERE: Progressive Field
* PITCHERS: Carrasco (0-3, 8.17 ERA) vs. Sanchez (6-5, 2.76)
* TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM