CHICAGO — Sometimes pitchers talk about their job, and it's unclear what they're saying. They're on a different plane, and their thoughts float over your head like a balloon caught in the breeze.
Justin Masterson isn't like that.
In explaining the Indians' 4-0 victory over Chicago on Sunday afternoon, in which he threw his third shutout of the season, Masterson said: "They hit the ball on the ground, and with me that means they either hit it at someone or not at someone. Today they hit it at someone."
Masterson's six-hitter completed the Indians' first four-game sweep of the White Sox in Chicago since 1948. They have won 14 of 19 games and moved into a first-place tie with Detroit in the AL Central as the Tigers lost for the second straight day to Tampa Bay.
In winning his 10th game, Masterson struck out eight and recorded 14 groundball outs. It was the second time this season that he's shut out the White Sox. Masterson's infield defense was in top form, turning four double plays. Catcher Yan Gomes contributed by picking off fleet Alejandro De Aza at first after his leadoff single in the fourth.
When asked what was working particularly well for him, Masterson said: "The defense was working great for me. Those guys were working hard. This whole weekend has been about the position players.
"We've tried to go out and pitch when we've had to, but we got here at 4 a.m. Friday morning and played a doubleheader. We came out the next day still scoring runs. Today we came out and played solid offense and good defense. That's a testament to what this team all about."
Masterson (10-6, 3.48 ERA) threw 112 pitches, including 73 strikes. He leads the AL in complete games and shutouts with three each.
"Masterson was amazing," said Gomes. "That's what he does, that's what he's known for. He's going to throw that sinker down and in. It was just a dominant performance for him."
Chris Sale (5-7, 2.79) wasn't bad either. He retired nine straight before Drew Stubbs opened the fourth with a bunt single to third. It definitely threw the left-hander off his feed.
He retired the next two batters as Stubbs went to second on Asdrubal Cabrera's grounder to third, but Ryan Raburn lashed a double to the gap in left center to easily score Stubbs for a 1-0 lead. Carlos Santana followed with a single to make it 2-0.
"It was nine up and nine down," Stubbs said when asked about the bunt. "It's a weapon I have and can use from time to time. Especially when they're not trying to take it away.
"On the first pitch, the first and third basemen were in tight protecting against the bunt. He threw me a strike and the third baseman backed up a little."
Manager Terry Francona felt it changed the tenor of the game.
"Stubby getting down that bunt was so big," said Francona. "It made him pitch out of the stretch. Then Raburn hits that double. I felt we did a real good job getting what we got because when you face Sale you know you're not going to score a lot of runs because his stuff is so filthy."
The Indians made it 3-0 in the fifth when Michael Brantley singled and went to third on Gomes' double down the left-field line. Lonnie Chisenhall delivered Brantley with a groundout to second.
Stubbs added an RBI double in the ninth to give Masterson a 4-0 cushion. Gomes had three of the Tribe's 10 hits.
"Sale is tough," said Raburn. "We had to scrap for everything we got. Then we left it all up to Masty. When he gets on a roll, I don't think there's any guy you'd rather be playing behind."
Sale, 0-2 against the Indians this season, allowed three runs on seven hits in eight innings. He struck out 10, but has lost six straight decisions.
The Indians are 7-2 against Chicago this year.