Justin Masterson has often pitched like an ace this season, and now the Cleveland Indians need him to stop a season high-tying losing streak that began with his last outing.
Looking to bounce back from a rough start, Masterson tries to end his team's five-game skid when their series with the red-hot Cincinnati Reds shifts to Progressive Field for two contests Wednesday night.Masterson (7-3, 3.20 ERA) came to Fenway Park on Friday having thrown 19 straight scoreless innings, but allowed five runs in six innings of an 8-1 loss that snapped his three-start winning streak. That defeat was the first of five in a row for the Indians."This was probably the first (start) I didn't really feel the greatest," said Masterson, who's given up two or fewer runs six times in 11 starts in 2013. "I was just kind of pushing (the ball) to the plate."He might have a good chance to get back on track against the Reds, having won his last two matchups with them by allowing one run in 17 innings. The right-hander will be trying to pitch the Indians to their eighth consecutive home victory over Cincinnati.Masterson, who has held left-handed batters to a .231 average, has mostly handled Reds left-handed sluggers Joey Votto (2 for 13) and Jay Bruce (2 for 12).However, Votto, like his team, is on a tear. The first baseman is batting .424 in May and went 3 for 8 with a home run in the first two games of this series at Cincinnati.The Reds rolled to an 8-2 victory Tuesday for their 18th win in 23 games in May. Cincinnati has outscored opponents 35-19 in its last six contests."As a team, we're feeling great," left fielder Xavier Paul said after driving in two runs and collecting three hits Tuesday. "We're pitching real well and hitting real well, and we've finally started to win some games on the road, which is great."While Masterson has done well versus the Reds of late, Bronson Arroyo (5-4, 3.39) has had no such luck against the Indians. He's 0-3 with a 11.20 ERA in his last three starts against Cleveland, surrendering seven home runs in 13 2/3 innings.Arroyo, though, gave up three runs in six innings of a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday to win his third straight start. He's posted a 1.33 ERA over that span.Cleveland designated hitter Jason Giambi is 6 for 18 with three home runs in his career against Arroyo.Reds shortstop Zack Cozart has gone 12 for his last 25 with five doubles.Cleveland has scored 14 runs and batted .209 during its five-game slide."It happens," pitcher Zach McAllister said. "We're in a funk right now."