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Closing Time: Indians 11, Red Sox 0

06.09.10 at 9:49 pm ET
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CLEVELAND — Former Red Sox pitcher Justin Masterson turned in perhaps his best start as a major leaguer, allowing no runs on two hits over nine innings. The result was an 11-0 victory for the Indians, Wednesday night at Progressive Field. Masterson, who was 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA over his previous two starts, induced 17 ground ball outs to just three fly outs.

It was Masterson’s second career complete game, having pitched on in his last start of the 2009 season.

Masterson’s counterpart, Sox starter Clay Buchholz, didn’t pitch too poorly, but wasn’t as sharp as he had been in building a five-game win streak coming into the game. Buchholz finished his outing allowing three runs on four hits, walking four and striking just one one over seven innings. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, their relievers (Boof Bonser, Joe Nelson) combined to surrender eight runs in the eighth inning to put the game well out of reach.

The Red Sox, whose only two hits came from J.D. Drew and Victor Martinez, never got a baserunner to second base. (Click here for a complete recap.)

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Masterson pitched.

- Clay Buchholz showed he was human. After winning each of his last five starts, and coming into Wednesday night having tossed 18 straight scoreless innings, Buchholz didn’t have the command he has had of late. The Red Sox starter only surrendered three runs, but did walk the four while throwing two key wild pitches. (The second wild pitch scored Jhonny Peralta with the Indians’ third run.) His strike total was 61 out of 107 pitches, the lowest number of strikes he had thrown since May 8.

- The left-handed approach didn’t pay off for the Red Sox. The Sox stacked their lineup with lefties against Masterson, who came into the game allowing left-handed hitters a .370 batting average, compared to the .246 clip against righties. The starter had also struck out right-handed hitters at a much higher rate, fanning 37 and walking 11, compared to a 18-to-22 ratio vs. left-handers.This time around, Masterson managed both sides of the plate, getting five of his six punch-outs against lefties (David Ortiz twice).

- Dustin Pedroia continued to struggle. The Sox second baseman came into the game going 13-for-74 (.176) in his last 18 games. Wednesday he went 0-for-4 to lower his batting average to .249, his lowest since April 9.

- David Ortiz also has seen his bat stay silent, going hitless in three at-bats with the two strikeouts.Ortiz his now hitting .103 in June (3-for-29) after winning the American League Player of the Month through May. In regard to letting Ortiz find his way out the slump — and Mike Lowell’s lack of playing time (two starts in the last 18 games) — Terry Francona suggested a change of approach from the beginning of the season, when he was platooning Ortiz and Lowell more times than not.

“I think earlier in the season there were times where I was trying to make things reach and I think they weren’t reaching and it probably got in the way sometimes of guys swinging the bat better,” Francona said. “You try and keep everybody productive and you end up hurting everybody’s production, with the day’s off … We tell the guys, sometimes it’s not fair. But you have to do what you think is right.”

- The bullpen was brutal. After Buchholz’ seven innings, Bonser made his first appearance for the Red Sox a forgettable one. The big right-hander allowed a four-pitch walk to Trevor Crowe, who promptly stole second, a single to Shin-Soo Choo, another walk, this one to Austin Kearns, and finally an RBI single to Russell Branyan. That was all for Bonser. Then it actually got worse for his replacement, Nelson. Nelson failed to retire any of the first five batters he faced — including Travis Hafner, who launched a grand slam — before inducing a 6-4-3 double play. Nelson finished his outing giving up four runs on five hits and three walks over the one inning.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- There were no significant injuries.

- They were able to rest Daniel Bard. As an aside, regular closer Jonathan Papelbon won’t be rejoining the team until it returns to Boston Friday. Papelbon is on bereavement leave, which allows the team a replacement for a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven.

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