Jimenez Shuts Down Rays, Gives Tribe Second Series Win; Indians 7, Rays 3
By Mike Brandyberry
It took a little time, but Ubaldo Jimenez is finding his groove in the Indians’ rotation.
Saturday evening the Tribe used a quality six-inning effort from Jimenez to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-3. The Tribe was able to score early on the young, left-handed Matt Moore to give Jimenez all the support he would need. Every Indian starter, except Asdrubal Cabrera, would record a hit on the evening.
“Ubaldo continues to give us good outings,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “This is number seven in a row. He had a very good slider and was able to throw it even when he was behind in the count, even 3-1.”
Jimenez relied heavily on his off-speed pitches, not his customary fastball to retire the Rays and was able to settle in quickly with good run support.
“The slider was really good and the split (finger),” Jimenez said. “I get really comfortable when we score early. I can go out there and pound the strike zone. You don’t have to be too fine.”
Cleveland jumped on top early in the bottom of the second when Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double that one-hopped the right, centerfield wall. After Carlos Santana weakly grounded to shortstop, Shelley Duncan drew a walk before Lou Marson doubled to left field in front of the diving Desmond Jennings to score Brantley and give the Tribe a 1-0 lead.
With runners on second and third and still just one out, Jack Hannahan grounded to shortstop to score Duncan and extend the lead. However, Aaron Cunningham would place the exclamation on the inning when he grounded up the middle off of Rays’ shortstop Sean Rodriguez’s glove. The ball would score Marson and squirt just far enough away for Marson to hustle in with a headfirst slide for a double and an Indians, 3-0 lead.
“Cunningham’s hit was probably the biggest hit of the game, if it wasn’t the farthest one,” Acta said. “The two-out RBI single that he converted into a double up the middle.”
Cleveland tacked on more in the bottom of the third inning when Cabrera walked and Jose Lopez doubled into the left field corner to put two runners in scoring position with no one out. Brantley grounded to shortstop to score Cabrera and give the Tribe a 4-0 lead. Carlos Santana had a very good at bat, going with a pitch and driving it to the right centerfield wall, scoring Lopez and making it 5-0 through three innings.
Moore would be chased from the game after four and two-third innings, allowing five hits, five runs—all earned—walking five and striking out three. It is the fourth consecutive win against a left-handed starter for the Tribe.
Tampa battled back in the top of the fourth and finally crack Jimenez. Ben Zobrist would lead the inning off with a double to deep right field. After getting B.J. Upton and Jeff Keppinger to ground out to shortstop, Luke Scott homered to dead centerfield to make the score 5-2. Scott was hitless in his last 41 at bats before a home run Friday evening. He was the only Ray with two hits Saturday.
Jimenez settled in however, carving up the Rays for six innings, allowing only five hits, two earned runs, striking out eight and walking only one. He threw 97 pitches and 60 for strikes, while making his lone mistake to Scott. He’s now 3-3, with a 2.93 ERA since June 5 after an eight day layoff to work on mechanical issues.
“The thing is that I’m able to go out there and put starts together in a row. I’m feeling better and better,” Jimenez said. “Sometimes when I get to the mound I have to find my mechanics. But after I throw a couple pitches and then get things going.”
Tony Sipp and Vinnie Pestano worked a scoreless seventh and eighth inning. Sipp worked a three-up, three-down inning, while Pestano allowed a walk. Each struck out a hitter. Tonight was Sipp’s fourth consecutive outing without allowing a run, showing signs of the bullpen arm he has been prior to 2012.
“We need him big, especially since Raffy (Perez) is not back yet,” Acta said. “The big thing is they’ve been pinch-hitting and stuff and he’s been getting some right-handers. I hope his confidence continues to rise and I have the guy who I’ve had for the last three years.”
The Indians would remove any doubt when Santana would walk off Wade Davis to start the bottom of the eighth inning and Shelley Duncan hit his eighth home run of the season, a 389-foot bomb into the left field bleachers to make the score 7-2. Duncan has now homered in four of his last six games.
“We had some good at bats throughout the lineup, especially some of those right-handed bats we were expecting to hit those lefties and over the last couple games they’ve come alive,” Acta said. “Especially Shelley, Lopey and Marson continue to swing the bat well.”
Esmil Rogers worked the ninth inning, allowing a home run down the left field line on the first pitch he threw to Jennings to make the score 7-3. However, he would settle down to retire the next three hitters and give the Indians their second win of the series. The victory keeps them three games behind the streaking Chicago White Sox and a game and a half in front of the Detroit Tigers. The Indians have won seven of their last 10 to keep in the race.
Tomorrow the Indians will look to win the four game series against the Rays and close out the first half of the regular season when Zach McAllister (3-1, 3.93 ERA) takes the mound against Tampa’s James Shields (8-5, 4.11 ERA). The game will be broadcast on WKYC-3 and heard on AM-1100 WTAM beginning at 1:05 pm.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images