CLEVELAND — It took the Indians one more brief and ineffective outing from Justin Masterson for them to realize the best place for the right-hander was the disabled list.
Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Masterson lasted just two-plus innings in a 5-3 loss to the Yankees, the pitcher was placed on the injured list for the first time in his career with right knee inflammation.
“I think we all kind of came to that conclusion (Monday) night that maybe a two-week (break) would be best for him and us,” manager Terry Francona said after Masterson fell to 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA over 19 starts.
Masterson had a start pushed back in an effort to resolve the knee issue prior to Monday. Though Francona wouldn’t put all of the blame on the injury, he thought it was a factor in a lack of command that has seen Masterson walk 56 batters over 98 innings.
“It’s hard to imagine it would help,” Francona said. “Guys are out there competing and probably don’t feel it, but it’s hard to imagine it would help.”
The Indians will need to replace Masterson on Saturday. Triple-A Columbus right-hander Zach McAllister is lined up to make that start, but not yet officially announced. They will also need a pitcher for one of the games of a July 19 doubleheader in Detroit. The nod could go to McAllister or right-hander Danny Salazar.
McAllister is 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts for Columbus, while Salazar is 3-5 with a 4.93 ERA in eight starts for the Clippers.
“(Senior director of scouting) John Mirabelli saw Danny last outing and said it was kind of the Danny we called up last year.
That was exciting to hear,” Francona said. “And Zach’s last four games have been really good.”
The Indians have taken plenty of hits to the rotation during the first half — a starting staff that lost Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir from last season. Prospective All-Star Corey Kluber has been the only consistent contributor, with Cleveland already using eight starting pitchers.
“You can whine about it or you can try to figure out a way to win,” Francona said.
Ups and downs
The Indians made a number of moves Tuesday, promoting catcher Roberto Perez and LHP Nick Hagadone from Columbus, while optioning OF Tyler Holt back to the Clippers and designating RHP Mark Lowe for assignment.
Perez, a 33rd-round draft pick in 2008, batted .305 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs in 53 games at Columbus. He takes over the backup spot from George Kottaras, who was designated for assignment Monday.
“He’s had a phenomenal year, offensively, defensively,” Francona said of Perez, a native of Puerto Rico. “We feel like he can come here and help us.”
Hagadone is here to provide relief help, but is expected to be sent back down Saturday to clear room for the starting pitcher.
The Kluber count
After urging Indians fans to take to the internet to vote for Kluber, who is one of five finalists for the American League’s final roster spot, Francona said he did his part Tuesday.
The manager didn’t provide a vote count, but estimated that he casted them regularly from 10:30 a.m. to around 3:30 p.m.
“I voted my (butt) off,” Francona said.
Double-A Akron OF Anthony Gallas, a Strongsville native and Kent State University product, was named Indians minor league player of the week (June 30-July 6). Gallas, 26, hit .483 (14-for-29) over the seven-game span, with four doubles, a homer and five RBIs.
Gallas, a non-drafted free-agent acquisition in 2010, entered Tuesday batting .371 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 24 games since his promotion from Advanced Class A Carolina.
- Michael Brantley entered Tuesday night having not struck out in a major league-high 55 straight plate appearances, which accounted for the second-longest such streak this season. He is the third-hardest hitter to strike out in the AL.
- The Indians had lost five straight to the Yankees through Monday, and 12 of the last 14 since 2012.