The Indians are averaging 6.4 runs over their last 10 games entering Masterson's start against Tampa Bay on Friday. And though the right-hander has been surging for a lot longer -- he's posted a 3.25 ERA over his last 13 starts -- he has just a 5-5 record to show for it. Cleveland gave its ace two or fewer runs of support in 10 of those 13 outings.
So when Cleveland scored six runs in Masterson's last start against the Orioles on Sunday, it felt like a lot more.
"Our offense came in and scored a bunch of runs," Masterson said.
In that game, Masterson was solid as usual, limiting the Orioles to two runs on five hits over seven innings. The right-hander has lasted at least six frames in each of his last 13 starts, the longest stretch by a Cleveland pitcher since Cliff Lee went 14 straight starts during the 2009 season.
"The ball was moving and slicing," Masterson said. "That's what we want it to do. It was really nice."
Righty Alex Cobb will start for the Rays, trying to prove his two most recent starts were an anomaly and not a trend. He was the losing pitcher against Detroit on Sunday (five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings) and against Kansas City on June 25 (eight runs on 13 hits over eight innings).
"The Detroit game, I didn't feel bad," Cobb said. "I had a big jam I had to get out of in the fourth, that might have tired me out a little bit going into the fifth and sixth, mentally and physically. But, you know, the Kansas City start, I don't look too much into it. I just was really off early in the game. Wasn't as sharp."
Cobb is 3-5 with a 4.94 ERA in eight starts since being recalled from Triple-A Durham on May 19.
"Not a trend at all," Cobb said. "Bad outing in Kansas City, normal outing against Detroit. They came out as the better team that day. I made my pitches and they capitalized on them being good hitters, and putting the ball in play and finding some good holes."
Rays: Scott's struggles continue
Luke Scott's hitless streak extended to 39 at-bats on Thursday, as he went 0-for-3, surpassing Jose Cruz Jr.'s club record. Cruz was 0-for-37 from April 16-May 1, 2004.
Manager Joe Maddon played Scott at first base -- his first start in the field all season -- in an attempt to help snap the slump.
"I've been chasing it, trying to eat soup with a fork type of frustration going on," Scott said. "I have peace knowing that I do everything I can every single day to put myself in a position to where I can grab a hold of it if it presents an opportunity, but it's been elusive."
Tampa Bay is a combined 4-13 against the American League Central this season. The Rays own a .591 winning percentage (39-27) versus all other opponents.
Indians: Focusing on better at-bats
Extended work on quality at-bats during Spring Training appears to be paying off for Cleveland. The Indians particularly focused on their two-strike approach, and were hitting .192 in those situations with an .273 on-base percentage this season entering Thursday. They posted .176 average and .241 on-base percentage with two strikes last year.
"Put the bat on the ball, you give yourself a chance," manager Manny Acta said. "Strike out, you've got no chance. You're just going back to the dugout either to complain about the pitch or ask somebody if it was too high or too low. That's all there is to it."
Jack Hannahan is hitting only .195 (8-for-41) in 14 games since coming off the disabled list. He continued to scuffle on Thursday, going 0-for-2 with a walk.
Cleveland improved to 40-17 all time against the Rays at Progressive Field with Thursday's win.
Despite the loss, Tampa Bay has still taken 11 of the last 16 games overall in the series since 2010. But the Rays were 8-24 against the Indians over the four previous seasons.