Cleveland Indians pitcher Justin Masterson entered Tuesday’s start against the Boston Red Sox having walked more batters than anyone else in the American League. So naturally, he was a strike-throwing machine in the series opener.
Masterson escaped a potentially disastrous first inning and then settled in on his way to a dominant showing against Boston. The big right-hander finished the night with seven innings of three-hit ball and 10 strikeouts in the Indians’ 3-2 win. He walked four batters, but all of those free passes came in the first three innings. After that, Masterson was more effective than a pitching machine.
He pounded the strike zone for the rest of his start, including an incredible stretch that started in the third inning. Masterson induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of A.J. Pierzynski, and from there, the pitcher took up residency in the strike zone.
Masterson channeled his inner Pedro Martinez by striking out the side on nine pitches in the fourth inning, but he was just getting started. He ended up throwing 25 consecutive strikes, a stretch that finally ended in the sixth inning when his 91 mph two-seam fastball just missed the outside corner against David Ortiz.
“His ball moves so much, it’s so hard to square up,” Pierzynski told reporters after grounding into two double plays against Masterson. “I think that’s the biggest problem. That’s also why he walks a lot of guys, because it’s so hard for him to control it at times. But he really settled in there in the middle innings. When he’s locating his ball, he’s tough as they come. We’ve seen that. I’ve seen that obviously facing him for a lot of years.”
Masterson certainly settled in Tuesday night, and that made for a long night for the Red Sox.