CLEVELAND — Given the choice, White Sox manager Robin Ventura would load his lineup with lefty hitters whenever Cleveland’s Justin Masterson pitches.
But health has sapped Ventura and the White Sox of their preferred 25-man roster as another left-handed hitter, Adam Eaton, was added to the 15-day disabled list before Saturday’s game.
Masterson predictably then had his way with his right-handed heavy opponents as he pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings, and the Cleveland Indians took advantage of two White Sox errors in a 2-0 win in front of 15,834 at Progressive Field. Good as he was, errors by Marcus Semien and Tyler Flowers led to a pair of unearned runs against White Sox starter Scott Carroll, who was outpitched by Masterson.
“You can’t do it right now,” Ventura said. “We are missing a few (left-handers). He’s tough on righties. The one inning, we had some guys on and (Semien) hit a good ball and (Nick Swisher) makes a good play on it. That’s part of it. We didn’t help Scotty out. He pitched great.”
Unfortunately for the White Sox, Carroll’s counterpart was better.
The numbers suggest a lineup dominated by left-handed hitters if Masterson is on the mound. Lefties have a .284/.361/.419 slash line against Masterson over his career while righties hit just .217/.300/.292.
That’s what the White Sox did on April 12 when they started six players who could bat left-handed and they knocked Masterson out after 4 2/3 innings.
But with Eaton and Conor Gillaspie, who batted first and third on April 12, on the DL and Leury Garcia needed in a pinch, the White Sox looked more like the team Masterson went 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA against in 2013.
He faced one batter over the minimum through four innings and then got a little lucky in the fifth when the White Sox loaded the bases. Dayan Viciedo reached on a two-bases error to start the fifth and Masterson walked lefty Jordan Danks and hit Flowers to load the bases. Semien then smashed a ball toward first base but Swisher made a great catch and easily doubled off Flowers to end the inning.
Masterson retired eight of the last 10 batters he faced before he handed the ball off to Cody Allen, who stranded the tying runs on with a three-pitch strikeout of Jose Abreu.
After he put 12 men on and allowed six runs on April 12, Masterson allowed four hits, walked one and hit another while striking out six.
Even though they’re injured the White Sox know they have to weather the storm until their comrades return.
“You can’t quit,” Gordon Beckham said. “It’s not always going to go good. You’re not always going to be as healthy as you want to be. But the guys out there, we’ve got to find a way to get some wins till those guys get back.”
Carroll nearly had them in position.
His defense had other ideas, though.
Carroll yielded a leadoff double to Lonnie Chisenhall in the second inning but would have gotten out of trouble had Semien not dropped a pop up with two outs.
Cleveland then increased its lead to 2-0 in the fifth inning when Jose Ramirez reached on a bunt single and advanced to second on Flowers’ throwing error. He moved to third on a sac bunt and scored on Swisher’s sac fly to center.
Otherwise the Indians didn’t do much against Carroll, who allowed five hits and walked one over six innings. Over his first 13 1/3 innings in the majors Carroll has allowed 11 hits, four runs (one earned) and walked three.
“I would never hold that against them,” Carroll said of his defense. “They’re trying to get outs. Its just part of the game, and unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”
After moving above .500 earlier this week, the injury-depleted White Sox have dropped four straight. They expect to get Gillaspie back on Wednesday, but Ventura would like a good response from the team he has on hand.
“Guys will bounce back,” Ventura said. “You go through a season, there are ups and downs and it’s how you react to it. These guys they will keep going. It’s part of it. You take your lumps every once in a while and when you get going, you’ll get some wins.”