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Masterson is ready to pitch in any role

Masterson is ready to pitch in any role


SEATTLE - While it might have been his last start for the time being, with Daisuke Matsuzaka almost certain to return this week, Justin Masterson pitched yesterday like he belonged in the rotation. He lasted into the seventh inning, and left the Red Sox with a chance to win.

So though he might be back in the bullpen soon, where he is likely best suited, Masterson did not seem overly concerned with his role: ``Whatever happens, happens,'' he said with his usual smile. ``I'm just happy to be pitching.''

Especially pitching well. Masterson was particularly efficient yesterday, though the Mariners did touch him for nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He entered the seventh having thrown just 80 pitches, and got an out before allowing an infield hit to Ronny Cedeno. He didn't walk a batter, and struck out six, allowing a solo home run to Russell Branyan and an RBI triple in the second, for all the scoring against him.

``It was a lot better than the last outing that we had,'' Masterson said, referring to his last start in which he walked four in six innings. ``I really mechanically felt comfortable out there. This game was defined by just great defense and pitching on both sides. Couple pitches that I kind of misplaced were the ones that scored, which has been the case kind of all year. We were able to settle down and keep the team in the ballgame.

``Really just staying back, staying calm, cool, and collected, not trying to rush out to get any extra on the ball. Just allowing my mechanics to throw the ball. I felt like I had good sink on the ball today, and was able to get a lot of infield hits.''

The Sox have not yet announced how the rotation will change when Matsuzaka returns this week. But the expectation is that Masterson is bullpen bound, where he would join a crew that entered yesterday with the best ERA in the American League, while leaving a group of starters that had the worst.

``He was good,'' manager Terry Francona said. ``He made some pitches. He kept his pitch count down where we could manage the bullpen. I thought his ball had pretty good life. He made a couple mistakes and he paid for those, but you get into the seventh inning, give up a couple runs, that's a pretty good performance.''

Double dip

Nick Green yelled to Jeff Bailey at first base. He saw what no one else seemed to. When Mariner Rob Johnson attempted to sacrifice Wladimir Balentien to second base in the sixth inning there was confusion whether Johnson's bunt was foul.

So after Jason Varitek scooped up the ball and threw to first base to get Johnson, Green noticed that Balentien started walking back to first.

``I think Balentien thought it was a foul ball, so he started walking back,'' Green said. ``Nobody said anything so I told Bailes to throw me the ball. I yelled at him. That's when Balentien started running. He acted like it was a foul ball, instead of going back to the dugout.''

Bailey threw to Green, who tagged Balentien just before he reached second (for the second time). The play was recorded as a sacrifice bunt (catcher to first base), and an out at second, for the double play that ended the inning. Balentien had reached on the first of Green's two errors on the day.

``When Johnson left the batter's box, we couldn't tell if he thought it was a foul ball,'' Francona said. ``Because nobody was calling it foul. Then you put your head down and we're coming off the field . . . you knew something was different. I think their runner probably thought the same thing we did.''

As Dustin Pedroia said, ``I don't think we'll ever see that again.''

Left at a loss

Ramon Ramirez took the loss after allowing just his second run of the season. With a scoring change on the ninth-inning error by Green - making it a single for Cedeno and error allowing him to reach second - the run off Ramirez was earned . . . Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He's batting .344 over the streak . . . Julio Lugo was out of the lineup after arriving at the ballpark a ``little bit sore,'' according to Francona. Because of the quick turnaround, the shortstop was not likely to play anyway. But that was reinforced when he felt tightness in his hip flexor/groin area Saturday night, causing him to leave the game before the bottom of the seventh . . . Francona altered the lineup slightly, moving J.D. Drew from third to fifth, and moving Jason Bay and Mike Lowell up a spot. The Sox were facing a lefty, Jason Vargas, with normal splits against righties and lefties. But it was Drew who took Vargas deep for a solo home run in the fourth . . . David Ortiz declined to speak with reporters for the third straight day. He has been taking swings in the cage over his three-day rest and the team hopes four straight days off will clear his mind. ``I know he comes back here and hits a little bit,'' Francona said. ``The hope is that it really helps. Day off tomorrow, so hopefully the whole thing combined will be beneficial.'' Asked if Ortiz would be back in his customary No. 3 spot when he returns, Francona said, ``I don't know. I want to talk to him. I haven't talked to him yet because I want to give him some room.'' . . . Kevin Youkilis arrived in Boston yesterday morning after taking the red eye from Seattle in preparation for DHing for Pawtucket tonight . . . Mark Kotsay will be re-evaluated when the team returns to Boston. The team wants to make sure he's fully healthy before any decisions are made. ``We've had so many opportunities where that spot's come up,'' Francona said. ``That's why we're trying to be careful.'' . . . The Red Sox came into yesterday tied with Toronto and Detroit for first in Baseball with 40 grounded into double plays. They had three more yesterday, including two by Lowell.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 18, 2009

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