But Masterson looked much more like the club's ace in his last two starts. He has given up a combined three earned runs over 14 innings in those starts, and he beat Tigers ace Justin Verlander last Thursday afternoon.
The Indians will need that to continue Tuesday night against the Royals as they hand Masterson the ball and ask him to do something aces are supposed to do: deliver a great outing when the other starters struggle.
Indians starters have given up a combined 25 earned runs in 17 innings over the last four games.
"Today was huge for our bullpen," Indians manager Manny Acta said after Monday's win where the bullpen pitched four innings of one-run ball, "but it takes more than one day. It will be pretty important for us if [Masterson] can go deep. We'll give some of those guys like [Tony] Sipp and Smitty [Joe Smith] a rest that they need."
A solid outing from Masterson will be even more important considering the Indians' lineup still isn't at full strength. Cleveland will be without catcher Carlos Santana (concussion), third baseman Jack Hannahan (strained calf), and will likely still be without designated hitter Travis Hafner (knee) and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
Kansas City will counter with left-hander Will Smith, who got knocked around by the Yankees in his Major League debut last Wednesday night. Smith gave up five runs, including three homers, in only 3 1/3 innings on the mound.
"Bad location, and they hit 'em," Smith said after the loss. "They hit 'em a long ways."
With a bullpen that saw a lot of action in Monday's 8-5 loss to the Indians, Kansas City will need Smith to have a short memory and bounce back quickly. Royals starter Nathan Adcock lasted only 2 1/3 innings in the series opener.
Indians: Chisenhall wastes no time in return to Majors
The Indians recalled third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall from Triple-A Columbus on Monday to replace the injured Jack Hannahan, and he wasted little time making an impact.
Chisenhall, who spent 66 games with the Indians last season, hit a solo home run in his first at-bat Monday afternoon against the Royals. The left-handed hitting Chisenhall smacked a 1-1 pitch from Kansas City starter Nathan Adcock into the visitor's bullpen in right field. He was 2-for-4 in the game.
"What a beautiful swing, huh?," Acta said. "This kid has just got a beautiful swing."
Acta said Chisenhall will get most of his at-bats at third base, but he'll also see some action at designated hitter until Travis Hafner returns from a knee injury. Chisenhall was the Indians' DH and batted seventh on Monday.
Chisenhall, the Indians' 2008 first-round pick, was hitting .324 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 28 games for the Clippers this season. He doesn't know how long he'll be with the Indians this time around but, for now, Chisenhall is just happy to be in Cleveland again.
"I know there's a lot of injuries," he said, "and guys are gonna need to come back at some point, but I'm not really looking at that."
Chris Perez converted his 17th consecutive save Monday afternoon after blowing one on Opening Day. He has 20 strikeouts in his last 17 outings.
Royals: Pitchers get little help from defense
The Royals were forced to go to their bullpen early Monday after Adcock got knocked around by the Indians.
But the Kansas City defense did little to help Adcock and the bullpen work through their rough day on the mound.
The Royals committed three errors in the game, including one by second baseman Irving Falu in the seventh inning. Relief pitcher Jose Mijares got Jose Lopez to bounce into what would normally be a routine double play, but Falu bobbled the ball and all the runners were safe. Instead of getting out of the inning down just 7-5, Falu allowed a run to score and forced the Royals to go even deeper into their bullpen.
Center fielder Jarrod Dyson went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored on Monday after missing Sunday's game with a bruised right hamstring.
Kansas City's Eric Hosmer hit a two-run home run in the second inning Monday afternoon, his first homer since April 25. That one also came against the Indians.
Cleveland's Lou Marson is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday night after missing Monday's game. Marson got hit by a pitch in the mouth Sunday against the White Sox and required three stitches to seal up the gash.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis went 3 for 4 with two RBIs Monday. He now has nine hits and six RBIs in his last 16 at-bats.