Masterson, Raburn help Indians sweep Sox out of town
Masterson cruises to 13th win, Raburn homers twice
The sweep was the Tribe's second four-game sweep of the White Sox this season. The Indians have now won eight games in a row and 11 in a row at home, moving them to a season-high 12 games over .500. Cleveland now trails the Detroit by two games in the American League Central after an idle day for the Tigers.
The White Sox have bottomed out since the All-Star Break, dropping 13 of their last 16 games. Chicago now owns the second worst record in the American League, ahead of only the Houston Astros.
Masterson (13-7, 3.33) out-dueled Chicago ace Chris Sale (6-11, 2.92) in an afternoon matchup of All-Star pitchers. Masterson allowed just one run on five hits in six and two-thirds innings and has won all four of his starts against Chicago this season. He has limited White Sox hitters to three earned runs in 31 and two-thirds innings, good for a 0.85 ERA.
"I felt all right," Masterson said. "I was leaving a few sinkers out there at times. I was pitching and battling and trying to make things work. The overall sense is we played well as a team."
Alejandro De Aza provided the only damage against Masterson, leading off the top of the sixth with a home run to right. The White Sox loaded the bases in the seventh with one out, but Masterson struck out Tyler Flowers and Rich Hill induced a ground out to short-circuit the rally.
Hill finished the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth. Joe Smith retired the side in order in the ninth to finish the game.
The Indians took an early 1-0 lead against Sale in the second when third baseman Mark Reynolds singled with runners on first and third. After Drew Stubbs reached on an infield single in the third, Ryan Raburn hit a high, lazy homer to right, putting the Tribe up 3-0.
Raburn struck again with runners on first and second in the fifth, hitting a RBI-single to left. Asdrubal Cabrerafollowed with a sacrifice fly to center, plating Nick Swisher from third and putting the Indians on top 5-0.
Sale struggled to throw pitches past Tribe bats, allowing five runs on 10 hits in five innings of work. The outing was the shortest for Sale since June 19 and the five runs was the most allowed since surrendering eight in an April 13 start, also against the Indians.
In three starts against the Indians this season, Sale has given up 16 earned runs in 17 and one-third innings, good for a bloated 8.31 ERA.
"When you look at most lineups when he pitches, they try to get their lefties out of there," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We match up pretty well because we can send up pretty good right-handed hitters, because he's so tough on lefties."
With Dylan Axelrod on in relief in the seventh, Raburn blasted a 398-foot homer to the bleachers in left-center, extending the Indians lead to 6-1. The homer was his second of the game and 13th of the season. It was Raburn's seventh multi-homer game of his career and his third this season.
"I prepare myself the same way every day whether I'm playing or not," Raburn said. "This is one of those years where everything is going right for me. I'm trying to hold on to it and ride it as long as I can."
Francona pushed for Cleveland's front office to sign Raburn in the offseason, despite his .171 average in 66 games with Detroit last season. He began the season as the Tigers' second baseman but was eventually benched before being sent to the minors.
"He got off to a horrendous start and never really recovered," Francona said. "That happens to a lot of players. We were able to get him because of that. In the role he's in, he does a great job."
Reynolds' RBI-single in the second broke a string of 51 at-bats without a RBI. Michael Brantley continued to struggle against Sale, striking out in all three at-bats against the lefty. Brantley is two-for-16 with eight strikeouts against Sale this season.
The Indians will make their first trip to Marlins Park for a three-game weekend series. Cleveland right-handerUbaldo Jimenez (8-5, 4.17) takes on Miami right-hander Jose Fernandez (7-5, 2.71) on Friday at 7:10 p.m.
Nathan Kemp graduated from The University of Akron in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. He plans to pursue a graduate degree through NEOMFA in the fall. Follow him on Twitter @NathanCKemp.