Masterson unfazed by recent struggles

Masterson unfazed by struggles

BOSTON -- His stint as a starter is dwindling by the day. He is coming off back-to-back outings in which he's been knocked around for a career-high six runs in each of them. At a time when he could be furthering his case to remain in the starting rotation, all he seems to be doing is ushering his way out.

Some pitchers might express concern in such a scenario. Justin Masterson isn't one of them.

Boston's free-spirited fifth starter, currently occupying the rotation spot of the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka, will make his fifth start of the season Tuesday night at Angel Stadium against the Los Angeles Angels. The righty performed admirably in his first two starting assignments, picking up victories over the Orioles and Yankees, but he has struggled of late.

"As Daisuke gets better, that's good because we'll need him back here," Masterson said. "Whatever fate will happen to me will be decided when it happens. You just have to concentrate. This next start is mine coming up, so I'll try to make the best of it. The key is to keep the confidence up and carry it into the next game."

Despite his recent slide, losses to Tampa Bay and Cleveland in which he allowed a combined 14 hits, Masterson doesn't view his imminent return to the bullpen as a crushing demotion. In fact, the versatile hurler embraces the move, one that will add yet another option to a Boston relief corps that already ranks among the best in baseball.

"Coming into the season, we knew we had some great arms in the bullpen," Masterson said. "I was a part of it at the beginning, and I've been in the rotation for a while, but if I go back, hopefully I'll be able to continue to add to what is already there. It's been fun to watch because they've kept us in a lot of games."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Justin Masterson (2-2, 5.28 ERA)
Masterson's past two starts have been strikingly similar. He was strong early, only to falter in the middle innings. In the two losses, Masterson allowed 12 runs over 12 1/3 innings. His lone appearance against the Angels this season came out of the bullpen, and it wasn't good, as he surrendered four hits and three runs in one inning of work. In four starts since replacing the injured Matsuzaka, Masterson is 2-2 with a 5.48 ERA.

LAA: RHP Jered Weaver (3-1, 2.66 ERA)
Weaver is coming off his first career complete game last Thursday, when he limited the explosive Blue Jays to one run and three hits while striking out eight. Weaver faced just three batters over the minimum, tying up hitters with a slider he said was as good as he's ever had during the course of a game. His only mistake was an elevated pitch that Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill launched for a home run. Weaver beat the Red Sox in his season debut at home on April 10, holding them to one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings while striking out eight and walking two. He is 2-2 with a 4.46 ERA in seven career starts against Boston. Weaver is 3-0 at home this season, yielding just four earned runs in 29 2/3 innings.

Tidbits
Left fielder Jason Bay leads the Majors with 11 RBIs in "close and late" situations, defined as the seventh inning or later with his team ahead by one run, tied, or with the tying run on base, at bat, or on deck. ... Monday's off-day marks the end of a span in which Boston played 17 straight days. The Sox posted an 11-6 record during that stretch. ... David Ortiz's homerless drought of 130 at-bats is the second longest of his career. The designated hitter went 145 at-bats without a home run from Sept. 9, 1998, through June 9, 2000.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 4-1, 2.93) at Angels (Matt Palmer, 3-0, 3.06), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Red Sox (Brad Penny, 3-1, 6.90) at Angels (Joe Saunders, 5-1, 2.66), 3:35 p.m. ET
• Friday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 2-3, 6.31) at Mariners (Chris Jakubauskas, 1-4, 7.67), 10:10 p.m. ET

John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.