Thomecoming Overshadowed By Ubaldo; Indians 2, Royals 1
By Cody Gunselman
Can Jim Thome bring back the early season form and even the magic of the 1990s to the ailing Cleveland Indians, who on Friday placed Michael Brantley and Josh Tomlin on the disabled list? He didn’t quite do it himself Friday,going 0-4 with two strikeouts, but you could feel the excitement at sold out Progressive Field in the Indians’ 2-1 win over Kansas City.
And thoughThome did not have the homecoming some people expected, the Indians still made his presence felt throughout the game by sporting his traditional high socks, which could possibly become a staple if the team continues to win.
The acquisition of the Tribe home run king sold 8,000 more tickets in the opener of a pressure packed series with the bottom-dwelling Royals. It is yet to be seen how much the aging veteran Thome can bring to a ball club that is in desperate need of a spark. But for one night, it seemed to rejuvenate the fan base that had given up some hope over the last few series.
After falling below the .500 mark for the first time since the first series of the year, the Indians survived a pitcher’s duel thanks to a brilliant performance by Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez, who was one bad pitch away from keeping the young, talented Royals hitters scoreless, threw seven dominant innings, striking out 10. This outing was much needed to silence the critics who questioned the deadline trade to bring in the ace of the Colorado Rockies.
It seemed for the majority of the game that Royals pitcher Felipe Paulino had puzzled the Cleveland bats. The offense finally came alive in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Jimenez his first win in three starts. Santana started off the rally with a one-out walk, followed by a single by KosukeFukudome. With two outs in the inning and the chances of scoring dwindling, third basemen Jack Hannahan came through with a clutch base hit driving in Carlos Santana. Paulino then walked catcher Lou Marson to load the bases before giving way to relief pitcher Tim Collins. In a key at bat with a full count, Ezequiel Carrera walked to force in Fukudome, giving the Indians a 2-1 advantage.
Thome no longer is the caliber of player he once was when he bombed 52 home runs for the Tribe in 2002, though he still will provide a needed bat in the lineup until the Indians become fully healthy.The Indians have a long way to go to climb into the division race with Detroit, but this is a sign of life that hopefully will be carried out through the rest of this series and the rest of the season.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images