Improved Semien sits as White Sox attack Masterson with lefties

Improved Semien sits as White Sox attack Masterson with lefties
April 12, 2014, 3:15 pm

Robin Ventura’s “lefty brigade” has Marcus Semien out of the lineup Saturday for only the second time this season.

The infielder has played very well after a slow start. Semien, who went hitless in his first 13 at-bats, has a .324/.425/.471 slash line in 40 plate appearances since. But Semien, who sat Saturday because left-handers have more success against Cleveland starter Justin Masterson, wants to be even better.

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Semien struck out his first two plate appearances Friday but then reached base in his next three.

“My next goal is just to put together a game where every at-bat is a quality at-bat and I get in those situations, just relax, and drive runs in, get guys over, every time,” Semien said. “I relaxed and made some adjustments and got on base three times. If I can lock in and be focused every at-bat it would be a great game.”

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Despite his improved play, Ventura opted to sit Semien, who has scored eight runs and driven in four. It has more to do with Masterson, who went 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA against the White Sox last season and how he fares against right-handed hitters. An All-Star in 2014, Masterson has a .218/.300/.292 slash line against him by righties compared with lefties, who hit .283/.360/.416 against him. Righties’ strikeout to walk ratio is 2.93:1 against Masterson while the number slips to 1.54:1 against lefties.

Masterson exited Saturday’s game after 4 2/3 innings with six runs allowed (five earned), seven hits and five walks. Leury Garcia replaced Semien, Jordan Danks replaced Dayan Viciedo and Adrian Nieto filled in for Tyler Flowers.

“He’s just so tough on righties that if you have the ability to do it -- which right now we do,” Ventura said. “We weren’t real successful last year against Justin. He’s just extremely tough on righties.”