When you are a bad team like the Indians are, you have no margin for error. When your four through nine in your lineup reads Russ Canzler, Matt LaPorta, Brent Lillibridge, Jason Donald, Thomas Neal, Ezequiel Carrera and you are playing the Texas Rangers, you are going to need not to play perfect baseball, but you need a little luck as well.
So the Indians took that lineup to the field in Arlington, Texas against a first place club that features five All-Stars. Ubaldo Jimenez was on the mound and by the second inning, he was up to his old tricks, with a little help from his defense.
Donald, playing third base, took a grounder from Adrian Beltre and threw it across the diamond to Canzler. The throw was a tad up the line and Canzler dropped it. It was the first three brutal errors on Tribe infielders. Good teams like the Rangers know how to take advantage of extra outs.
Three hits, one walk, and two sacrifice flies later, it was 4-0. Oh and of course I can’t forget the obligatory Ubaldo wild pitch stuffed in between. He leads the majors in them you know, and is just two away from setting an all-time Indians record for wild pitches. Its a record that hasn’t been broken since just after my grandfather was born. If he were alive, he’d be over 100.
The Indians had a shot to make it interesting in the fourth when Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis opened the inning with back to back walks. But as always, the momentum was killed when Carlos Santana grounded into a double play.
Back to Ubaldo. Adrian Beltre touched him up for a solo blast to start the fifth and walked away from this one after recording the final three outs in the frame. It was another typical night for the guy Chris Antonetti staked his job on. He threw 93 pitches in five, 59 of which were strikes. He only gave up four hits, but he walked four as well. Ubaldo is as frustrating to watch as an Indians player can be. One batter he faces he makes look completely silly, and then the next he can’t put the ball over the plate.
I know I am beating a dead horse, but how could Antonetti and his staff have been rooked so badly into dealing for this guy? After last night’s loss, his 16th on the season, the Tribe is looking at a pitcher who in a full season here has 20 losses and has an ERA over five. Since the All-star break, Jimenez is 1-9 with an ERA of 7.13. His 16 losses are the most since Greg Swindell’s 16 in 1991.
Its not as if his defense helped him (or the relievers) last night. Donald made two throwing errors from the hot corner and doesn’t seem to have controlled his yips there. For some reason they don’t effect him at second or short, but when he gets to third, he tenses up. The good news is that Lonnie Chisenhall is back and should be playing third the rest of the way and will have that job to open the 2013 season.
“A team like that, you can’t give them extra outs,” said Donald. “Obviously, I did that tonight. It stinks. It’s unfortunate, because Ubaldo really pitched a good game. There’s no explanation needed.”
In the fifth, they got a two-out RBI single from Ezequiel Carrera and had two on with two-out, but the un-clutch Choo K’d to end the inning on a pitch that was up and in.
Again in the sixth, Kipnis opened the inning with a single and was erased on a Santana double play ball. Russ Canzler followed with a two-out single and was driven home with a two-out RBI off the bat of the one and only Matt LaPorta. That’s right, MaTola finally delivered his first RBI of the season, chasing lefty Matt Harrison.
In the eighth, they trailed 6-2 and did their best to make it interesting, mostly because Rangers set-up man Mike Adams was having a hard time throwing strikes. Choo and Kipnis both reached base again to start the rally. Santana would have grounded into his third double play if not for Kipnis’s hard slide into shortstop Elvis Andrus. Canzler’s fielder’s choice scored Choo to make it 6-3. Pinch hitter Lonnie Chisenhall worked a walk and Rangers Manager Ron Washington had seen enough of Adams, calling for Koji Uehara. Acta countered with pinch hitter Casey Kotchman, who singled home Canzler.
Washington again appeared from the dugout and signaled for power-throwing Tyler Scheppers who would be facing another pinch hitter, this time Michael Brantley. Scheppers struck out Brantley and that was that.
Closer Joe Nathan pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to close the Indians out.
“Those guys have got a very good ballclub,” Acta said of the Rangers. “You can’t afford to be giving them extra outs. Unfortunately, we did that in that second inning and it ended up costing us four runs.”
There is no better site to these teams battling for playoff spots than the Wahoos in the other dugout.
photo via Ron Jenkins, Fort Worth Star-Telegram via MCT