Six Strong From Ubaldo and Reynolds’ Blast Gives Tribe Second Win; Indians 3, Blue Jays 2
By Laurel Wilder
The second game of the season already had the Tribe going into extra innings as they worked to regain their lead over the Toronto Blue Jays. However, Cleveland prevailed with a 3-2 victory in 11 innings, capped with a Mark Reynolds monster home run.
The game began relatively quietly, with a scoreless first two innings. Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow delivered fastballs to Cleveland batters at speeds in the mid- to high-90s, providing a drastic change from the knuckleball pitching of the night before.
In his first start of the season, Cleveland’s Ubaldo Jimenez demonstrated the changes he has made in his pitching during the off-season. The pitcher who last year allowed eight runs in 2 1/3 innings during his last appearance in Toronto demonstrated good velocity during the game, throwing around 95 mph, and used his off-speed pitches to rack up strikeouts.
The first hit for the Indians came from Michael Brantley in the second inning with an infield single to second baseman Emilio Bonifacio. Carlos Santana followed Brantley’s hit with a single of his own, advancing Brantley to second. Reynolds, Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs all followed with strikeouts.
However, the third inning allowed for redemption. Michael Bourn doubled on a liner over third baseman Maicer Izturis and advanced to third on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s out to Jose Bautista. Following a strikeout by Jason Kipnis and a walk from Nick Swisher, Brantley returned to the plate and got his second hit of the night, a single to left that sent Bourn running for home.
Up 1-0, Jimenez returned to the mound and gave up a solo home run by Izturis. With the score now an even 1-1, Jimenez retired Bonifacio and Reyes, with Melky Cabrera hitting a fly to Brantley in left to end the inning.
The game remained deadlocked into the eighth inning. Both Jimenez and Jays’ starter Brandon Morrow left after six innings. Jimenez pitched six strong innings, allowing only one run on three hits and two walks, while striking out six. Morrow matched Jimenez, allowing only one run, while scattering six hits and striking out eight while walking only two.
Cleveland retook the lead in the eighth inning when Swisher started the inning with a walk off left-handed reliever Darren Oliver. Brantley followed with a single to left field to advance Swisher to second base. Carlos Santana followed with a ground ball down the third base line. Izturis fielded the ball, stepped on third to force out Swisher before throwing to first base for an attempted double play. The throw was wide of Edwin Encarnacion, rolling down the right field line and allowing Brantley to score all the way from first base to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.
Cleveland would remain ahead until the bottom of the ninth, when Bautista delivered the solo home run off closer Perez with one out in the inning.
The game continued through the 11th inning, when Reynolds crushed a fly ball to left-center off Sergio Santos, bringing the Tribe back into the lead at 3-2.
Joe Smith took the mound at the bottom of the 11th, earning his first save of the season and his career. Santos (0-1) was tagged with the loss while Matt Albers (1-0) earned his first win of the season, pitching a scoreless one-third of an inning in relief of Rich Hill.
Despite the frustrations of extra innings and the flashbacks of blown saves, this second game demonstrated the abilities of a number of players this season. Brantley’s four hits bring his batting average this season to a .714, solidifying him as a vital part of this team.
Reynolds, who prior to his home run had no hits in the game, showed himself to perform well under pressure and put himself on the radar of Cleveland fans.
And perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the game was Jimenez. With a rough 2012, doubts have circulated as to his performance this season. In his first appearance, he had command of all his pitches – hopefully showing a more efficient delivery and performance than fans have seen in the past.
According to pitching coach Mickey Callaway, Jimenez seemed to have developed a jerky start and stop habit in his pitching. After watching videos of Jimenez in Colorado, Callaway and Jimenez worked on picking up the tempo of his delivery instead of completely changing his mechanics, a change which seems to be proving worthwhile for the starter.
Now 2-0, the Tribe hopes to continue picking up their own tempo as they go for the series sweep in Toronto on Thursday at 7:07 pm. at the Rogers Centre. Brett Myers will start for Cleveland against Toronto’s Mark Buehrle.
The game can be seen on Fox Sports SportsTimeOhio and the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: Getty Images