SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (92.3 The Fan) – Justin Masterson tossed four hitless innings – but more importantly – was named the team’s Opening Day starter as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields, 7-1.
Following the game, Francona confirmed the nod on March 31 would go to Masterson, now in line for his third straight Opening Day start.
“I think it’s a big honor for him. I think it’s an honor for us to tell him. And I think he’s very deserving,” Francona said of his ace.
“I think when March 31 comes around, he’ll be ready,”
Masterson looked sharp on Tuesday, walking one and striking out one. He hit two Arizona batters with pitches, including former teammate Shelley Duncan.
“I felt okay,” Masterson said. “(There were) a lot of close pitches that I was happy with. We were around the zone, getting behind in the count every once in a while but had some great plays (behind me).
“Out of the stretch, I was doing a little slide step stuff so I was kind of getting ahead. My arm was dragging… but we’re working on that stuff. (It) felt good just getting some work in.”
Meanwhile, Lonnie Chisenhall drilled his first home run of the spring. The fourth inning homer was a two-run shot to center field. He finished 2-for-4.
“In fairness to (Chisenhall), we’re going to DH him tomorrow because we’re trying like crazy to accomplish a lot of things this spring,” Francona said. “I don’t want him to get shortchanged either. He’ll DH tomorrow so he can play two games in a row too, just to see if he can get on a little bit of a roll.”
Cleveland also received offensive contributions from Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley. Both drove in a run.
Cabrera, Chisenhall, Michael Bourn and Yan Gomes each had two hits a piece. Overall, the club collected 14 base knocks.
Arizona starter Trevor Cahill gave up five runs on nine hits. He left with two outs in the fifth after a small collision with Jason Kipnis at first base. He was diagnosed with a jammed right knee and is listed as day-to-day.
The D-Backs first hit of the game came off of reliever Cody Allen in the fifth when Martin Prado slapped a single into left-field. Matt Tuiasosopo drove him in with an RBI single.
Indians’ relievers Bryan Shaw, David Aardsma, Scott Barnes and Austin Adams combined to pitch four scoreless innings.
The Tribe got on the board in the second inning on a sacrifice fly to right by David Adams. Jeff Francoeur was doubled-off at first, but Yan Gomes scored ahead of the throw.
Young prospect Dorssys Paulino drove in two runs in the ninth with a two-run double.
With the victory, the Indians improved to 10-2-1 this spring.
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