Tribe's skid hits seven as Masterson struggles

Tribe's skid hits seven as Masterson struggles

Tribe's skid hits seven as Masterson struggles
DETROIT -- It was a snapshot of the way things are going lately for the Indians.

Tigers catcher Alex Avila sent a line drive into the left-center-field gap, where Indians left fielder Ezequiel Carrera was sprinting in to make the catch. Carrera ran into sun-soaked grass and, with his sunglasses flipped up, the young outfielder looked up, grimaced and lost the ball in a blinding light.

When it rains, it pours. Or, in this case, even a sunny Friday in the Motor City proved too much for Cleveland to overcome. Carrera's blunder cost the Indians a run, but he was hardly alone in contributing to a 10-2 loss at Comerica Park. As has been the case of late, the Tribe's undoing was its starting pitching.

Sinkerballer Justin Masterson surrendered seven runs, which served as a fitting symbol for Cleveland's seventh consecutive loss. Since defeating these same Tigers in a series at home last week, the Indians have gone 0-7 through Minnesota, Kansas City and now Detroit.

"It's really just disappointing," Masterson said. "I let the team down. For me, the biggest thing I wanted to do was go out there and set a solid tone, because we've been on -- we continue to be on -- a bad run right now.

"I was hoping to be that guy to help in the process of turning it around."

Avila's second-inning liner to left field -- the one that had Carrera collapsing to the ground with his eyes closed as the baseball skipped on by -- cracked open the floodgates. The catcher was awarded a run-scoring triple, putting Detroit on the board and on its way to its sixth home win in a row.

As for Carrera's adventure, well, Masterson was not about to cry about it.

"You've just got to laugh," Masterson said. "That's the best way to put that one."

Masterson, who allowed eight earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Twins last Saturday, lasted just four innings this time around. Tigers slugger Prince Fielder clubbed a two-run double in the third inning and capped off a four-run burst in the fourth with a two-run homer into the right-field seats.

Masterson had four walks and strikeouts, and allowed 10 hits in his latest 81-pitch effort. Detroit's left-handed hitters -- there were six in the lineup to face the right-handed Masterson -- combined to go 8-for-15 with four extra-base hits and a pair of walks against the starter.

"Justin struggled with his command," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was inconsistent with his release point. He was pulling off a little bit and then the sinker was getting flat instead of getting some sink down on his ball. When he's not on with that, those left-handed hitters usually kind of feast on him."

The sinker was not Masterson's only issue, though.

"Some of his sliders he was missing pretty bad with early on," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He's got that heavy sinker at 94 mph, and it's tough. I thought we did a pretty good job. We put together a streak of hits [in the fourth] inning, which was pretty impressive."

Detroit tacked on three more runs against Indians reliever Jeremy Accardo in the sixth inning, pushing to a commanding 10-2 lead. On the trip, Cleveland has yielded 58 runs, marking the most allowed in a seven-game losing streak by the club since giving up 60 runs in the first seven of an eight-game skid that ran from June 21-29, 1987.

Cleveland had not lost seven games in a row since June 19-26, 2010. No Tribe fan wants to be reminded of that season, during which the Indians lost 93 games.

On this road trip, the Indians' starting rotation has combined to go 0-6 with a 12.40 ERA, allowing 45 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings. In five of the seven games, Cleveland's starter exited with fewer than five innings logged.

"We've had some bad outings by some starters," Masterson said. "As starters, we're going to have to set the tone. We're definitely not doing that right now."

The Indians have been outscored by their opponents, 38-10, in the first four innings through seven games on this trip. Another way to put it is that Cleveland has faced more than a four-run deficit on average by the fourth throughout this losing streak.

That is a lot of pressure for the offense.

"I can't second guess these guys' effort or passion," Acta said of his hitters. "We're just not pitching very well right now. You can't fault these guys, because we're down by five, six, seven runs before the fifth inning. They're giving the effort.

"You're not going to pile up on them just because we're not holding the other team down. That's not fair."

Still, the Indians' offense could do little against Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who was acquired from the Marlins via trade on July 23. Sanchez held Cleveland to two runs (one earned) on eight hits over six innings, picking up his first victory as a member of Detroit's staff.

Cleveland's first run came on the third, when Carrera singled and advanced to second base on an error by right fielder Brennan Boesch. Shin-Soo Choo later brought Carrera home with an RBI single up the middle. In the seventh, Sanchez walked Jack Hannahan, who eventually crossed the plate on a groundout by Jason Kipnis.

That was hardly enough to stop a slide that is wearing the Indians down.

"It's never easy for anybody," Acta said. "But you still have to come out and play and fight through it, because no one is going to give you a game. Everybody wants to beat you up every single day. These guys are just going to have to take it like a man, come out every day and continue to fight. We'll fight through it."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.