Masterson sharp again as Indians win split-squad games against Cubs, Giants

Associated Press Published:

Associated Press

MESA, Ariz. -- Justin Masterson was so good Sunday that he hit the bullpen for more work after his spring outing was over.

Masterson struck out eight in five scoreless innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs in a split-squad game.

“It’s nice to see the ball sinking, and the slider sliding pretty good,” he said.

Masterson allowed two hits and walked none. He is slated to start on opening day.

Masterson’s breezy outing seemed so effortless that manager Terry Francona had the right-hander throw a simulated inning in the bullpen when he was done facing the Cubs.

“He’s just building.” Francona said. “You see a little bit more power to the fastball. He’s got three more starts, and he’ll be ready to go.”

Masterson has yet to allow an earned run this spring. He avoided many of the Cubs regulars, but he said the unfamiliar lineup also presented its own challenge.

“I have to make the adjustment off how they swing, make the adjustment off what they do with any given pitch, then the next time they come up remember that and make the adjustment,” he said.

“In that sense, it challenges you quite a bit.”

Carlos Santana had a solo homer and a double for Cleveland.

Chen-Chang Lee picked up a hard-earned save. He had to deal with a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the ninth after Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor booted a double-play ball.

Lee got another double-play ball, this one turned successfully by Lindor, and the Indians got out of the inning with just one run allowed.

“I thought he kept his wits about him real well,” Francona said.

Luis Valbuena went 2-for-3 with a double for the Cubs.

The game drew a sellout crowd announced at 14,918, a near-Cactus League record.

STARTING TIME

Cubs: The Indians got to Travis Wood for two runs and three hits in the first inning. But the left-hander rebounded with four scoreless innings after the shaky start.

Wood allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked none.

“Things were working out pretty well out there for me today,” he said. “I was able to locate the fastball and get ahead and go to work after that.”

Wood made the All-Star team and finished with a 9-12 record and a 3.11 ERA. He said he will use his remaining spring starts “to tune everything up before it actually gets going,” and he is confident heading into the season.

“Last year has a lot to do with it,” he said. “I was able to have a pretty solid season through and through. I took that into spring, and it’s been going well for me so far.”

PASS ON REPLAY

Replay was in use for the game. But only one call was close, and Francona passed on a challenge.

Valbuena doubled home Junior Lake for the Cubs’ first run in the sixth inning. The play at the plate “was pretty close,” said Francona, who talked it over with home-plate umpire Doug Eddings.

But Francona said they had a pretty good look at it and it was the right call.

FRANCOEUR SHINES

Veteran Jeff Francoeur had a two-run double for the Indians. He is trying to make the team as a non-roster invitee.

“This is probably the first time he’s been in this position,” Francona said.

“With that comes some anxiety. I completely understand that.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs reliever James Russell, who has been dealing with “little bit of a dead arm” this spring, sailed through a scoreless seventh inning.

It was Russell’s second outing of the spring. He allowed a run in one inning in his previous appearance.

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Indians (ss) 5, Giants 1

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Aaron Harang gave up a run on four hits in four innings and Nick Swisher hit a solo home run as the split-squad Cleveland Indians defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-1 on Sunday.

Harang, who signed a minor-league free agent contract on Feb. 15 after pitching for Seattle and the New York Mets in 2013, won his second spring start in a row as he makes a bid for a spot in the Indians' rotation.

The Indians scored a run in the first inning on a bases-loaded walk issued by Tim Hudson. After the Giants tied it at 1 in the second, Cleveland scored two more in the third. Swisher led off with his first homer of the spring and the second run scored on a double-play ground ball.

STARTING TIME

Indians: Bench coach Brad Mills said the 6-foot-7 Harang, who has also pitched for Oakland, Cincinnati, San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers during a 12-year career, brings a strong veteran presence to the mound.

Mills, who managed the Indians while manager Terry Francona managed the other split-squad team against the Chicago Cubs, said the 35-year-old Harang "still has got pretty good stuff. His fastball can sneak up on you and he can keep you in the game.

"He throws strikes and always seems to be around the plate."

He said Harang really made only one mistake, in the second inning, when a pitch ran out over the plate and Juan Perez hit it for a triple. Perez scored on a single by Brandon Crawford.

Giants: Hudson is trying to stretch himself out, and he threw 100 pitches Sunday in his fourth start of the spring.

He said it wasn't one of his worst outings, command-wise.

"I actually felt pretty good out there. I was just missing on a few pitches.

"I need to get the pitch count up. I need to get my work in. I have two or three more starts before the real thing."

He covered first base on a few grounders hit to first baseman Brandon Belt, a test for the right ankle that was broken during a similar play last July that ended his season with the Atlanta Braves.

"It's not graceful by any means, but I'll take it," he said of covering the bag, adding that he might get some residual soreness from time to time but that it is nothing to worry about.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians: Center fielder Michael Bourn, the team's leadoff hitter on Sunday, left after his second at-bat in the second inning due to mild tightness in his left hamstring. He will be re-evaluated on Monday.

Giants: Left fielder Michael Morse continues to be sidelined with tightness in his calf. Second baseman Marco Scutaro has yet to appear in a game because of back soreness, but has now taken batting practice and grounders for four consecutive days.

SWISHER SWINGS IT

Swisher, the veteran switch-hitting first baseman-outfielder-DH, collected a pair of hits, including his first spring homer, as well as a walk. His average climbed to .200.

"It's nice to see him start to get back into it. It looks like he is seeing the ball real well," Mills said.

HALL OF FAMERS RULE

Four of the Giants' five living Hall of Famers addressed the team before Sunday's game - Orlando Cepeda, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry.

GIANTS HIT THE ROAD

The Giants will play three road games (Angels, Indians, Padres) and have an off day before returning to Scottsdale Stadium to face the A's on Friday night.

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