(Sports Network) - That black cloud hovering over U.S. Cellular Field can only mean that it must be Justin Masterson's turn in Cleveland's rotation.
The young righty hopes to finally put an end to his lengthy winless streak this evening when the Indians open a three-game set against the hosting Chicago White Sox.
Masterson comes into this game without a victory over his last 17 starts dating back to last season, dropping 11 decisions in that span since a victory on Aug. 20. He is 0-5 with a 5.87 earned run average in 10 starts this year and the Indians haven't done much winning with the 25-year-old on the hill. Cleveland is 2-8 in Masterson's 10 starts and 2-15 over his 17-game drought.
The 2006 second round draft pick could be on the verge of turning things around. Facing a tough Yankees lineup on Sunday, Masterson allowed three runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, but was let down by his bullpen and did not factor into the 7-3 loss.
Masterson is 0-2 with a 3.04 ERA in seven career outings versus the White Sox, four of those starts. He held them to a run over five innings of a no-decision on April 8 in Chicago, but was hammered for five runs over just four innings in a setback at home on May 24.
The Indians head to the Windy City following a drama-filled set with Detroit. After umpire Jim Joyce's blown call on Jason Donald's infield single in Tuesday's meeting cost the Tigers' Armando Galarraga a perfect game, Cleveland hoped to get a boost yesterday in David Huff's return to the mound.
Huff was pitching for the first time since taking a liner off his head last Saturday, but he lasted just three-plus innings and allowed five runs. He avoided the loss when Cleveland rallied for five runs in the fourth to grab a lead, but the Indians' bullpen gave up seven runs over the next three frames in an eventual 12-6 setback.
Shin-Soo Choo had a pair of doubles and two RBI for the Indians, who have dropped six of eight and are 2-5 on a 10-game road trip.
"Obviously, we didn't pitch very well," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "The kids made a great effort coming back."
Chicago aims for a different sort of come back this evening when it sends John Danks to the hill off his worst start of what has been an All-Star worthy season.
Danks hadn't allowed more than three runs in any of his first nine starts before getting drilled for eight runs on eight hits and three walks over a season-low four-plus innings on Saturday versus the Rays. He threw 102 pitches and saw his ERA jump nearly a full point from 2.37 to 3.34.
"You have to throw strikes, that was his problem," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told his team's website. "He's all over the place, behind hitters, heavy count, heavy innings. You're not going to last too long in games when you throw that many pitches in so many innings."
The left-hander has lost four of his last five starts to fall to 4-4 on the season. He is 3-5 with a 4.79 ERA in 11 career starts versus the Indians, including a victory on May 24. Danks, 25, threw five innings of two-run ball.
Chicago avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of Texas on Thursday with a 4-3 triumph. Carlos Quentin dropped a two-out fly ball in the fourth inning that set up a Rangers run, but he atoned for that mistake by following A.J. Pierzynski's double in the seventh inning with a go-ahead home run.
"When he hit it I was thinking of tagging and going to third," Pierzynski said. "I wasn't sure it was going to go out. I was extremely happy when it went out."
Andruw Jones hit the 398th homer of his career and Alex Rios also went deep in what was the White Sox's fourth win in their last 12 home games. The series kicked off a nine-game homestand for Chicago that also includes a visit from Detroit.
The Indians have won six of nine versus the White Sox this year, including two of three so far in Chicago.