Jimenez Outshines Verlander, Tribe Survives Late Rally; Indians 7, Tigers 6

The Indians are beyond making a habit of defeating former Cy Young winners. It is officially a trend.

Saturday evening the Indians beat their sixth former Cy Young winner of the season when the took down Justin Verlander and Detroit Tigers by a score of 7-6. The Tribe was able to strike Verlander early and push up his pitch count, limiting him to only a five inning outing. Meanwhile, it was Ubaldo Jimenez who looked more like he was hardware worthy, logging his third consecutive quality start while the Indians’ bullpen survived through the final nine outs.

Cleveland struck immediately in the top of the first inning when Michael Bourn started the game with a single and Jason Kipnis followed with a walk to put two on and no one out against Verlander. After Asdrubal Cabrera hit into a fielder’s choice, forcing Kipnis out at second base, Nick Swisher doubled to right field to score Bourn and move Cabrera to third while spotting the Indians an early 1-0 lead.

The Tribe was not done in the first inning, however. With runners on the corners, Carlos Santana followed Swisher in the lineup and drew a walk to load the bases. Jason Giambi worked a bases loaded walk off Verlander and the Indians had a 2-0 first inning lead. Verlander was able to strike out Mark Reynolds before getting Michael Brantley to fly out to left to end the inning but the Indians made the Tigers ace work. He threw 35 pitches and walked three before Detroit had a chance to take a swing.

Cleveland would add to their lead in the second inning with a small gamble and a very good slide. After Verlander retired the first two hitters, Kipnis singled to right field. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a double down the right field line and third base coach Brad Mills decided to gamble with two outs and waved Kipnis all the way around to score. Kipnis’ head first slide narrowly avoided the tag of Alex Avila just long enough to get his hand to the plate and the Tribe a 3-0 lead.

Meanwhile Jimenez retired 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced. The only exception was a leadoff home run by Jhonny Peralta in the third inning. Jimenez missed with a change up, up in the zone and Peralta crushed a homer to left field for his third home run of the year. The solo blast cut the Indians lead to 3-1 after three innings.

Jimenez worked out of a jam in the fourth inning when he allowed a single to Miguel Cabrera and double to Prince Fielder with one out. With runners on second and third, Jimenez was able to get Victor Martinez to ground out to first base and hold the runners in place before striking out Andy Dirks. Jimenez was able to pitch out of trouble, something he struggled to do a season ago and even early this season.

The Tribe added their final run on Verlander and chased him from the game in the fifth inning. Swisher led off the inning with a walk and Santana followed with a chopper to first base. It appeared to be a double play when Fielder stepped on first base to retire Santana and had Swisher caught in a run down between first and second base. However, Miguel Cabrera made a wild throw and Swisher was able to advance to second base on the error. After Giambi struck out, Reynolds laced a two-out single to center field to score Swisher and give the Indians a 4-1 lead after five innings.

Verlander (4-3) was chased from the game after only five innings, allowing six hits and four runs—three earned—while walking five and striking out seven. He threw 110 pitches in only five frames. After his 35 pitch first inning, the Indians pushed Verlander for 27 more in the second inning and 20 in the fifth inning.

Cleveland continued to tack on runs against Detroit reliever Drew Smyly. In the sixth inning Bourn made the inning when he singled with one out, then stole second base. After Kipnis struck out, Asdrubal Cabrera singled home Bourn from second base to extend the lead to 5-1. Bourn had two hits in the game and the stolen base was his second swipe of the season. The Indians added another run in the top of the seventh inning when Reynolds walked with two outs and Brantley and Mike Aviles followed with singles to score him and make it a 6-1 game.

With a 6-1 lead, Jimenez exited after six strong innings. He allowed only three hits and one walk, while striking out eight on 93 pitches. The solo home run to Peralta was his only blemish on the scoreboard. It was his third strong start in a row after a bumpy start to the season. For the first time as an Indian, Jimenez is starting to show signs of the pitcher they traded for in 2011.

Despite one of Jimenez best starts as an Indian, the Tribe bullpen found a way to make it a game. Nick Hagadone relieved Jimenez in the bottom of the seventh and immediately struggled with control. Victor Martinez led off the inning with a double before pinch hitter Matt Tuiasosopo walked. Hagadone then walked Peralta to load the bases and Indians manager Terry Francona removed him for Cody Allen.

Allen entered the game and got pinch hitter Bryan Pena to line out to center field for the first out of the inning. Martinez scampered home on the sacrifice fly, cutting the lead to 6-2. However, Omar Infante issued the big blow a triple to the right center field gap scoring both base runners and making the game 6-4. A ground out to second base by Austin Jackson would make the game 6-5 before Allen finally ended the inning.

Cleveland tacked on a very necessary insurance run in the eighth inning. Kipnis walked and Asdrubal Cabrera singled to start the inning against Al Alburquerque. Cabrera had three hits in the game. After Swisher struck out, Santana reached on an infield single to load the bases. Giambi hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Kipnis and give the Tribe a 7-5 lead. It was Giambi’s second plate appearance with the bases juiced in the game and each time he was able to get the runner home from third base.

Joe Smith pitched a nerve-wracking eighth inning that included a hit batsmen and walk before inducing Tuiasosopo into a double play to end the inning. Chris Perez earned his sixth save of the season with drama of his own. After retiring the first hitter, Swisher dropped a throw from Aviles that would have been the second out. Infante followed with a single to put runners at first and second with one out. After Kipnis made a great play up the middle to turn a base hit into a fielder’s choice for Jackson, Torii Hunter laced a single to right field to make it a 7-6 game. With the tying and winning runs on base, Perez got Miguel Cabrera to ground out to third base to end the game and give Cleveland the win.

For the Indians, their defeat of Verlander is their sixth victory of the season against former Cy Young winners. They are 6-1 on the season against Cy Young winners. Only Jake Peavy has issued the Tribe a defeat this season.

Cleveland will look to win the series on Sunday and pull themselves into a first place tie with Detroit.  Zach McAllister (3-3, 2.63 ERA)  will take the mound for the Tribe, while Detroit will counter with Rick Porcello (1-2, 7.52 ERA). Game time is slated for 1:08 p.m. from Comerica Park.

Photo: Duane Burelson/Getty Images

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