CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 6: Johnny Damon #33 of the Cleveland Indians reacts to hitting a foul ball during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field on July 6, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rays defeated the Indians 10-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
This game was played against type: Masterson, who has been pitching very well of late, was completely off-kilter mechanically, not able to find the strike zone or even throw pitches on a downward plane. And the Rays, who have of late been the league's most anemic offensive squad, exploded for 10 runs on 13 hits, including four extra-base hits.
This was not a game where Masterson pitched well for a couple innings only to lose it; he was off from the beginning. Desmond Jennings singled on the first pitch he saw, and on the second Masterson uncorked a wild pitch. After Carlos Pena struck out, Ben Zobrist launched a two-run homer. Masterson retired the next two batters to end the inning, and got through the next inning, but without inducing a ground-ball out.
The Indians would tie the game in the bottom of the first, but a Travis Hafner double play would largely derail the inning. Yes, the Tribe would get the minimally-expected two runs after loading the bases with nobody out, but got them on Hafner's double play and an Alex Cobb balk (with the Tampa Bay infield pulled around to the right, Asdrubal Cabrera bluffed a move towards home from third base, causing Cobb to stop his windup). To that point the Indians were getting good swings off Cobb, but after the first inning ended, so did their good looks. Cobb settled down, and would give up just one more run over the next five innings. Cobb doesn't have a a blazing fastball, but his secondary pitches are very effective, especially his changeup, which actually has good movement on it.
Meanwhile Masterson just couldn't find the strike zone, and the Rays made him pay for it. Justin walked two in the third inning, and with the bases loaded and two out, backup catcher Jose Lobaton singled up the middle to give Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead. In the fifth, Masterson completely lost it; he gave up a two-run homer to former Tribe prospect Luke Scott, who had before that at-bat gone 0 for his last 41 at-bats. After he gave up another single to Lobaton and walked light-hitting Will Rhymes, Manny Acta had seen enough. This marked the first time in his last 13 starts that Masterson did not go at least 6 innings.
What usually has happened when the Indians have to go the bullpen early happened again in this game. Nick Hagadone, who has been relegated to mop-up duty after initially serving as a key setup man, was awful again, allowing both runners on base to score as well as two of his own. So by the time the fifth ended, the Rays were up 10-2, and the unexpected rout was on.
The Indians would score another run off Cobb in the fifth and mount a promising rally in the sixth, but Travis Hafner's second double play of the night ended any thoughts of a comeback.