With so much harsh Tribe baseball for our viewing displeasure recently, last night was a refreshingly positive game. The Indians got good pitching and hit enough to take the series opener against the Red Sox 5-3. Ubaldo Jimenez stacked up the strikeouts against the BoSox to collect his ninth win of the season, Chris Perez got back on the right track, and the offense put a crooked number up on the board as the Indians won their second straight after dropping the previous eleven.
There was enough negative news prior to the game with Travis Hafner heading back to the DL and pitching coach Scott Radinsky being relieved of his duties. Jason Donald was called up to take Hafner’s spot on the 25-man, and he made his impact felt immediately. With Jason Kipnis being a late scratch from the lineup due to a stiff neck, it was Donald who started at second and batted first. Donald took a Felix Doubront fastball and sliced it just inside the right field foul pole to give the Indians an early 1-0 lead.
Well, it sure looks as if firing Scott Radinsky turned around the starting rotation, starting with Ubaldo Jimenez.1 As we’ve seen for stretches this season, Ubaldo had command of his fastball and piled up the strikeouts. His mistake inning was the fourth, where a few of those fastballs found too much of the plate Tomlin-style when he was ahead in the count. Adrian Gonzalez deposited one of them into the right field seats to give Boston the 2-1 lead in the fourth. Jimenez would allow four hits in all that inning, but he stranded two runners by striking out Aviles and coaxing a force out on a bang-bang play at second off the bat of Ciriaco.
The Sox added one more in the fifth, and it looked like we were headed back down that worn-out path of frustration. Instead, the Tribe bats put together a consistent effort in the fifth. After Marson and Donald reached base, Asdrubal Cabrera drove in Marson with a RBI double. After a Choo walk to the load the bases,2 Carlos Santana chased Doubront from the game with a RBI single that tied the game at 3. Facing a lefty bullpen arm in Andrew Miller, Brantley put a good swing on one and brought Cabrera home with a sac fly to give Cleveland the lead. So often this season, we’ve seen a failure to do the little things and an inability to drive in runs with the bases loaded. By no means did the Tribe explode to put the game out of reach, but they did enough damage3 to hand it back over to their pitching to take charge. The Indians also had much more success against the lefty Doubront then they did back in May (6 innings pitched, 1 run allowed).
After a leadoff double by Ciriaco in the top of the seventh, Jimenez’s day was done. Handing it over to Tony Sipp, Ublado allowed 3 runs and 8 hits to go with his 1 walk and 8 strikeouts. Sipp got out of that jam by striking out Jacoby Ellsbury and then getting a stellar defensive play behind him. On a hard hit grounder to short, Asdrubal went for the lead runner Ciriaco heading to third. After a brief rundown, they got him then Cabrera had the awareness to get Crawford heading to second base as well. It ended the threat in the inning and was a huge momentum swing. I’ve dogged Cabrera for some amazingly poorly-timed defensive blunders this season, but he delivered in a big way with that sequence last night.
From there it was Pestano and Perez slamming the door as they’ve done so many times this season. Vinnie did put two on base, but he exited with his 31st hold. As for Perez, who shaved his beard prior to today’s game, he dispatched the Red Sox in order in the ninth for his 30th save, his first since July 26th.
Tonight, it’s lefty Chris Seddon making his second start for Cleveland against right-hander Clay Buchholz.
(Photo: Tony Dejak/AP)