KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Justin Masterson couldn't be touched when he got ahead in the count. It was when he started drifting away from the strike zone that the Indians' starter ran into trouble.
Masterson issued a pair of four-pitch walks to struggling Royals hitter Mike Moustakas, and gave up a first-pitcher homer to Alcides Escobar. By the time Masterson was finally chased from Sunday's game, Kansas City was well on its way to a 9-0 victory.
"I ended up hanging some pitches up there and not finishing through a couple," Masterson said after the opener of a day-night doubleheader brought on by Friday night's rain. "Hopefully this is one of the outliers of the season. You're bound to have something like this."
Masterson (4-2) came into the game with a 1.85 ERA, but was soundly out-pitched by Jeremy Guthrie (3-0), who kept Cleveland off the scoreboard while pitching into the seventh.
Masterson gave up seven runs on nine hits and four walks in 6 1-3 innings.
"When he worked ahead and got to two strikes, he was crisp and electric," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He walked Moustakas on four pitches twice, and Escobar ambushed him on a first-pitch fastball, and suddenly they're up 4-to-nothing.
"His stuff was good," Francona said. "The walks to Moustakas were big."
Moustakas was hitting just .152 when he walked on four pitches with two outs in the second inning, and Jeff Francoeur and Jarrod Dyson hit back-to-back doubles to make it 2-0.
And Moustakas was still hitting just .152 when he walked on four pitches in the fourth, and Francoeur and Dyson hit back-to-back singles to score another run.
"I think he had a force field around the strike zone for his first two at-bats," Masterson said. "I couldn't put it in there. I have a no clue why. It was unbelievable."
Moustakas singled off Masterson in the sixth and walked against Matt Albers in the seventh.
"See!" Masterson said, as if proving his theory. "He turned the force field off for a second for a hit up the middle, and put it back on."
Escobar homered on the first pitch he saw in the fifth inning, his solo shot just skirting the foul pole in left field, and the Royals wound up scoring three runs in the seventh.
Alex Gordon capped the scoring with a two-run homer off Scott Barnes in the eighth.
"The guys down the bottom of the order you want cranking your offense," Royals manager Ned Yost said, "and then it comes back around to your main guys, and that's where you score big."
The closest anybody came to scoring off Guthrie came in the second inning.
Carlos Santana sent a drive to center that hit off the green padding atop the wall. The ball bounced back into play and was ruled a double, and the call was upheld when the umpires checked the replay. Santana was left stranded when Guthrie retired Ryan Raburn and Lonnie Chisenhall.
"It was close," Francona said. "I wish it had went about 2 inches further."
Guthrie allowed six hits over 6 2-3 innings for his 16th consecutive start without a loss, tying the Royals' record set by Paul Splittorff from Aug. 13, 1977-April 22, 1978.
"I knew it's been a number of starts in a row, because people kept reminding me of it," Guthrie said with a smile. "Ultimately, it means a lot because hopefully the guys behind me when I go out are confident that we have a chance to win the game."
NOTES: RHP Corey Kluber (1-0, 1.80 ERA) was starting Game 2 for the Indians, while the Royals recalled LHP Will Smith from Triple-A Omaha to start for them. ... Cleveland put C Lou Marson on the DL (right shoulder strain) and recalled C Yan Gomes and LHP Scott Barnes from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game. ... Escobar had a hit in his eighth straight game.