In what I’m pegging as the match-up of the night this is one that everyone should at least take the time to sneak a peek at if you can’t watch the entire game. The Cleveland Indians ripped the Boston Red Sox a new one yesterday, in what was manager Terry Francona’s first visit to Boston since his departure, by a score of 12-3.
Justin Masterson, who has been nothing short of a shot in the arm for the Indians rotation and team, is in the midst of a 19-innings scoreless streak. That is tied for the longest of his career, as well as the season when he had thrown 19-innings of scoreless baseball until the Boston Red Sox broke that up on April 17 earlier this season on their way to a three-game sweep of the Tribe.
(Alex Kienholz provided us with a PitchF/X profile of Masterson earlier this season)
Both teams have surprised many of us this year by how well they have played, with the Indians a half game up on the Detroit Tigers at 27-19 and the Red Sox just one game behind the New York Yankees at 28-20.
What I’m Paying Attention To
1) Justin Masterson has put himself together a mighty fine season by posting a 2.83/2.94 ERA/FIP line, a 24.8% K rate (a career high), a 9.1% BB rate, and a 60.8% first-pitch strike rate (also a career high) over 70 innings of work thus far. Throw in the fact that he’s in the middle of a 19-inning scoreless streak and the last team to ruin such a streak for him was the Red Sox and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent storyline for why this matters other than the usual reason (to win).
2) The Red Sox are just 10-12 in the month of May after pulling off an 18-8 record in April -- thanks in part to a league-leading .339 BABIP and a league-leading .221 BAA for their pitching staff. They’ve come back down to earth on both fronts since the calendar rolled over to May and the last thing they want to do is lose ground to any of the other three teams in their division that are currently in the race (New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Bay Rays).
3) Terry Francona wants to win. He may say all of the right things and be respectful, humble, and appreciative for all that he was able to accomplish with the Red Sox and all that jazz but let’s face it -- this man wants to beat the living snot out of them and continue to lead his division.
What You're Paying Attention To
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