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Game 73: Reds 6, Indians 4

When something is rare, you'll remember it, but a commonplace happenstance is quickly forgotten. I still remember quite vividly the regular-season losses down the stretch in 2005, but I have to look back over the archives to refresh my memory on last Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh. Tonight's 6-4 loss marks a new high (or low) in consecutive losses, so at this point, Indians wins are the pink Lamborghinis, while the losses are the beige Accords.

Justin Masterson has had quantum improvements since April and early May. Left-handed hitters (and I type this without a hint of snark) are now hitting just .325/.418/.444 against him, and he's improved on his already-excellent splits versus right-handers. Coming into tonight, opposing hitters of all stripes hit .224/.315/.286 against him in June. Runs are down as well; he's sporting a 3.15 ERA over the last four weeks. The Indians were patient with him during that first brutal stretch of starts early in the season, and it looks like he's turning the corner.

But Justin still has some problems, like delivery repetition. Tonight, he seemed in control of things until the fifth, when he lost contact with the strike zone, walking two batters and uncorking a wild pitch. He also threw wildly to first base, allowing Drew Stubbs, who had led off the inning with a single, to advance to second. By the time the Indians could get someone warmed up, the Reds had tied things up at 3. He got out of the fifth, but couldn't retire a batter in the sixth, and was removed after the Reds took the lead. I guess the next step in his development as a starter is to be able to self-diagnose mechanical issues and resolve them during the course of the game.

The Indians faced Masterson's evil twin in Cincinnati starter Sam LeCure, a right-hander with a marginal fastball and an assortment of slow breaking pitches. Fangraphs has him throwing his fastball only 59% of the time, and against the Indians he threw it at an even lesser frequency. The Indians figured him out early, and Dusty Baker realized it, removing him in the fourth with the Indians up 3-1. Given the inning and score, it was a premature hook, but given how the Indians' at-bats were going, it was a good call. The Reds bullpen held the Indians in check for the rest of the game, and thanks to Masterson's unraveling in the middle innings, Cincinnati caught the Indians and then took the lead.



Highest WPA Lowest WPA
Jayson Nix .133 Justin Masterson -.374
Carlos Santana .092 Shin-Soo Choo -.101
Jhonny Peralta .035 Shelley Duncan -.090