Justin Masterson was quick to pass along credit for Cleveland’s eighth straight victory to the guy he provided him all the support he needed in a 6-1 decision over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
“The story’s about Ryan Raburn doing his thing,” Masterson said. “That was pretty cool to see.”
Raburn homered twice and drove in four runs as the Indians, who have won 13 of 17, completed a four-game sweep of the reeling White Sox.
Raburn, who has played a major role off manager Terry Francona’s bench, hit a two-run homer in the third, had an RBI single in the fifth and belted a leadoff home run in the seventh. He has 13 homers and 37 RBIs in 173 at-bats while playing mostly against left-handed starters.
“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, even though he batted .171 with 12 RBIs in 66 games with Detroit last season. He began the season as the Tigers’ second baseman but things quickly regressed and he was 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.”
The Indians, who have beaten the White Sox eight straight times, moved to within two games of idle Detroit in the American League Central.
“Credit them,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “They just outplayed us. Today is probably magnified because of what happened earlier in the series.”
Cleveland also swept a four-game series in Chicago from June 28-30.
Chicago has dropped seven in a row and is 26 games under .500 for the first time since 1980. The White Sox have lost 13 of 16 and have the second-worst record in the AL.
The Indians, who are a season-high 12 games over .500, won all seven games of their homestand, which began with a three-game sweep against Texas. Cleveland outscored the opposition 40-20 during the seven-game stretch.
Masterson outpitched Chris Sale (6-11) in a matchup of All-Star hurlers. Masterson (13-7) gave up one run in 6 2-3 innings and has won all four of his starts against Chicago this season, allowing three earned runs in 31 2-3 innings.
Raburn’s home run off Sale in the third was towering fly ball to right that was pushed by the wind and curled inside the foul pole. He added an RBI single in the Indians’ two-run fifth and hit a leadoff homer off Dylan Axelrod in the seventh that landed in the left field bleachers.
Masterson’s bid for his fourth shutout of the season ended on Alejandro De Aza’s leadoff homer in the sixth. The right-hander was pulled with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh but Rich Hill got De Aza to hit into a fielder’s choice.
Masterson allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked three. He threw complete game shutouts against the White Sox on April 12 in Cleveland, a five-hitter, and on June 30, a six-hitter at U.S. Cellular Field.
Francona said Masterson was battling a stiff neck but the pitcher didn’t think that affected him.