Justin Masterson allowed a run over five innings to pick up the win against the Orioles. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Justin Masterson takes first step in turning Red Sox' starting rotation around

Ryan Hannable
April 20, 2015 - 1:02 pm

Although it was just one start, Justin Masterson did his part in turning around the Red Sox' starting rotation's poor start to the year. Going into Monday's annual Patriots Day game, the Red Sox had a 6.24 starters ERA, the worst in baseball. Masterson entered with an ERA of 7.59, but turned in his best start of the season going five innings, allowing one run on three hits, while striking out six in the Red Sox' 7-1 rain-shortened win. "€œIt is one of those where you start the season and are feeling great, so it started decently well for us," said Masterson of the rotation. "The second one was a let down for quite a few. I think we'€™ll run back and pitch a few good ones. Clay [Buchholz] did great again, Rick [Porcello] got his out of the way, and this was my third time and I was able to settle down a little bit. You'€™ll have bumps and grinds, ups and down. That'€™s just the process. I think we'€™re going out understanding who we are and encouraging each other and hoping for warmer weather as we go. We are giving 100 percent and I think it is starting to come together." Masterson certainly hasn't been blowing hitters away this season, with his fastball barely reaching the high-80s, but he had an exceptional slider in Monday's game, which contributed a great deal to his success. Over the first two games of the season, Masterson threw his slider 34 and 31 times respectively, getting three swing and misses on the pitch in each start. Monday, he threw the pitch 39 times for a total of six swing and misses, according to Brooksbaseball.net. "The slider was working real good," Masterson said. "That'€™s what helped me in 2013 and helped me to be a better pitcher. The best way to do that is to throw it for strikes in good counts. It will be beneficial for me just like it was when I had success." Masterson has been particularly good against right-handers this season, as Orioles righties went 0-for-6 Monday and are now hitting just .185 this season. "He's made very good adjustments," manager John Farrell said afterwards. "His slider has been a true weapon against both lefties and righties. He's been able to double and triple use of the pitch to keep hitters from guessing." The right-hander has pitched in Boston before and he knows how critical the town can be sometimes. He admits he's heard and seen what's been said after the last time through the rotation, but said it isn't bothering him or the rest of the Red Sox starters. "The expectations were that we weren'€™t going to be very good think, '€˜Oh look, that'€™s what we thought,'" Masterson said. "Are you excited to be happy or do you wish it was the other way? As you look at this staff, it'€™s a group of guys who know what they need to do. I don'€™t think it bothers us right now with our numbers. Does it bother me, no. I know know we have some great stuff and good things coming along. Those from the outside looking in, they are going to say you had a decent outing, but five innings. '€˜Only five inning?'€™ they are going to say. "It is going to be out there the entire time and there will be scrutiny, but I think great things will be coming from us."