Tribe's offense erupts behind Masterson's gem
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Indians were coming off consecutive shutouts, only to wake up Sunday and have to face the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Rays ace David Price. And they were set to do so behind starter Justin Masterson, who hadn't beaten Tampa Bay since 2008.
It was far from a promising outlook, but it couldn't have turned out much better for the Tribe. The Indians had their way with Price, and Masterson outpitched the Rays' ace in Cleveland's 13-0 win at Tropicana Field. Just like they drew it up, right?
"We went 20 innings without scoring a run. We had to score some time," Indians designated hitter Mark Reynolds said. "It just happened to be against him."
Cleveland racked up 17 hits, including five homers and six doubles, and held Tampa Bay to just four hits. Reynolds crushed two homers, Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Bourn hit one each and Carlos Santana picked up a career-high five hits -- including two doubles and a ninth-inning homer off Rays closer Fernando Rodney -- to lead the way for the Indians.
The fact that the Indians broke out of their two-day slump wasn't a surprise. That they did it against Price, and in such a big way, was a little more unexpected.
Heading into Sunday's matchup, Price was 5-0 with only seven earned runs allowed in 38 1/3 career innings against the Tribe. Meanwhile, Cleveland's bats had gone completely silent the previous two days. After stranding Bourn at third base in the first, the Indians' scoreless streak stretched to 20 innings. That figure didn't stand much longer, though.
Drew Stubbs put the Tribe back on the board in the second inning with an RBI single to right field. Reynolds added to that lead in the third, crushing Price's 0-1 curveball to dead center field for a three-run homer.
"He throws hard, so if you barrel it, it's going to go," Reynolds said. "You always feel good if you come away from a game with a knock against him. He's tough."
Ryan Raburn led off the fifth with a double to left and scored on Santana's two-out double, and Cleveland kept piling it on from there. Mike Aviles singled to put runners on the corners, then Chisenhall hammered a 3-1 fastball into the right-field stands to give the Tribe an eight-run lead.
"I really don't have a positive from today. And that's kind of tough to do," Price said. "I just have to keep getting better, working hard. It's not due to lack or work or anything like that. This is a very tough game and they put it to us today. It was very rough."
Price didn't come back out after the fifth, exiting with eight earned runs, 10 hits and three walks to his name. Not that Masterson needed the help with the way he pitched Sunday.
Cleveland's Opening Day starter was even better in his second outing of 2013. He gave up only two hits over seven shutout innings while striking out eight, picking up his first win over the Rays since June 3, 2008. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said Masterson took it upon himself to stop the Tribe's three-game losing streak, adding that he "really showed his colors" with his dominant performance.
And much like Price had been dominant against the Tribe before getting hit around Sunday, Masterson had practically no previous success against the Rays. He recorded 10 groundball outs, none in the air and retired the final 13 batters he faced. But Masterson wouldn't take much credit for his dazzling start, instead crediting the Tribe's hitters for giving him a big lead.
"The boys came out and they just bamboozled," Masterson said. "I just watched them."
The Indians didn't let up when Price left, either. Facing Kyle Farnsworth in the seventh inning, Reynolds bashed a towering shot off the upper deck in left field. Reynolds' 19th career multi-homer game gave the typically slow starter four home runs in the Tribe's first six contests.
"I don't know where this is coming from," said Reynolds, whose first homer in 2012 came on May 4. "It was important for me personally to come out and get off to a good start. To be able to do it this year, especially against the pitchers we've faced, is a huge confidence booster, and hopefully this will get some kind of rollover for me and I can kind of put it together a little bit."
The rout continued from there. Santana laced another double down the left-field line and scored on Aviles' single to left. Bourn, who stole his first base of the season in the first inning, clobbered his first homer of 2013 in the eighth inning, a solo shot to right field off reliever Brandon Gomes.
Reynolds doubled to lead off the ninth, setting up Santana's fifth hit -- a line-drive shot to right against Rodney, Santana's teammate on the Dominican Republic's World Baseball Classic championship squad.
"He's my friend with the team in the WBC," Santana said. "But here, no."
It was that kind of day for the Tribe. A friend becomes an enemy, the pitcher conquers the team he can't beat and the hitters crush the ace who held a Cy Young plaque over his head on the same field less than 24 hours earlier.
"When you get this game figured out," Francona quipped, "let me know."