Justin Masterson had no regrets about the pitch that cost him his chance at a no-hitter.
Masterson took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, Michael Brantley hit a bases-loaded triple and the Cleveland Indians beat the Minnesota Twins 7-1 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Masterson (11-7) had faced the minimum through six, allowing only a hit batter, when Brian Dozier led off the seventh with a broken-bat blooper to center field that dunked in under the glove of a sliding Drew Stubbs for a double.
That not only ended Masterson’s attempt at making history, it briefly halted what had been a quick, decisive trip through the Twins’ lineup. Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana immediately went to the mound to check on the big right-hander.
“He said, ‘Maybe we should have started him off with a slider.’ I said, ‘No, we wanted to challenge guys,”’ Masterson said. “That’s what we do. I don’t care if we have no hits or 100 hits, you still have to challenge guys.
“Broken bat? That’s what you want. It falls in, but in my mind I get so many balls put in play I’m like, something’s going to happen. There’s going to be a hit sometime. So let’s just make sure when it does happen, we stay in our game and make sure it doesn’t have a trickle-down effect,” he added.
Besides, by then the Indians were leading 6-0.
“I thought what he did was good enough,” manager Terry Francona said.
The Indians led 3-0 on Mike Aviles’ sacrifice fly and two-run homer by Jason Kipnis when they loaded the bases with one out in the fifth on a walk to Kipnis and consecutive singles by Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana off starter Scott Diamond (5-9).
With right-hander Anthony Swarzak warming in the bullpen, acting manager Terry Steinbach — in charge because Ron Gardenhire had the flu — visited Diamond on the mound. Diamond got Mark Reynolds to pop out to first for the second out, but Brantley hit a liner to the wall in right-center for a standup triple that cleared the bases and ended Diamond’s day.
The Indians hit Diamond hard even when making outs — 11 of the balls they put in play were solid line drives. That included Kipnis’ homer, which bounced off the top of the wall in left for his second opposite-field shot in two days.
“My stuff was really bad,” Diamond said. “I think I tried to overdo some things, and that kind of led to what happened.”
Diamond, the Twins’ best starter last season as a rookie (12-9, 3.59 ERA), gave up six runs, five earned, on seven hits and three walks as the left-hander lost his third straight decision.