CLEVELAND — Justin Masterson struck out a season-high 11 in seven shutout innings and Michael Brantley homered and drove in four runs off Felix Hernandez as the Cleveland Indians toppled yet another former Cy Young Award winner today with a 6-0 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Brantley hit a three-run homer in the second inning off Hernandez (5-3), who failed to go at least six innings for the first time this season.
Staked to an early lead, Masterson (7-2) was dominant for the second straight start. He allowed three singles, easily outdueled Hernandez and ran his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 19. He shut out the New York Yankees 1-0 on four hits in his previous outing.
The Indians improved to 7-1 against Cy Young recipients, knocking off Hernandez, R.A. Dickey, David Price, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Bartolo Colon and Justin Verlander.
The AL Central-leading Indians have won 17 of 21 and are a baseball-best 20-7 since April 20.
Following walkoff wins in the first two games of the series, Cleveland took the drama out of this one early, building a 5-0 lead after two innings against Hernandez.
The 2010 Cy Young winner, who left his previous start after six innings with back stiffness, came in with the league’s lowest ERA (1.53) but it rose to 2.07 after he gave up six runs and eight hits in five innings. Hernandez struck out eight, including the final three batters, but he was wasn’t on his game — and neither were the Mariners.
Seattle was only charged with one error, but the Mariners made several mental mistakes that helped the Indians.
Not that Masterson needed any.
The big right-hander overpowered the Mariners, who couldn’t catch up to his 97 mph fastball and only had two runners reach second base against him. The Indians were hoping Masterson could develop into their ace, and so far this season he’s been the dependable front-of-the-rotation starter they desperately needed.
Pitching with a six-run lead, he got stronger as the game progressed, striking out five of the last six and seven in the last three innings.
Brantley’s three-run homer with two outs in the second gave the Indians a 5-0 lead over Hernandez.
The right-hander, who needed 35 pitches to get through the first, retired the first two hitters on groundouts before Michael Bourn singled and went to third on Jason Kipnis’ base hit to center. Brantley then drove an 0-1 pitch into the Indians’ bullpen in center for just his second homer.
It was a stunning development against Hernandez, who came in having allowed just four earned runs in 44 innings over his past six starts.
A fundamental gaffe by Hernandez allowed the Indians to add a run in the fourth. With Mike Aviles at second after a double, Drew Stubbs topped a ball into the dirt that catcher Jesus Montero fielded in front of the plate and threw to first for the out. Aviles never slowed coming around third and scored easily because Montero got caught up the line and Hernandez failed to cover home.
The Indians jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first off Hernandez, who didn’t get much help from his defense.
Bourn led off with a single that he alertly turned into a double when right fielder Michael Morse casually charged the slow roller into right-center. One out later, Brantley hit an RBI single and took second when Morse overthrew his cutoff man while trying to get the speedy Bourn at home.
Nick Swisher then hit a grounder that went through first baseman Justin Smoak’s legs, giving Cleveland a 2-0 lead.
NOTES: Cleveland's starters are 13-4 in the past 21 games. ... White Sox RHP Jake Peavy is the only former Cy Young winner to beat the Indians this season. ... Masterson is the fifth starter to record double-digit strikeouts against the Mariners in 2013. ... The Indians will try to complete the four-game sweep on Monday as the teams conclude their wrap-around series with a matinee. ... Smoak has reached safely in 13 consecutive games. ... The Indians are 9-1 against the AL West. ... The Mariners failed to homer for the first time in 10 games.