Winning the series is one thing, but getting Ubaldo Jimenez back on track is quite another.
No way did I expect Ubaldo Jimenez to pitch this well against this team. But it happened, and because of it the Indians took a series against the Texas Rangers. It was starting pitching that won the series, as all three starters made Quality Starts against a lineup that led baseball in runs scored.
Jimenez had on hiccup, when he lost the strike zone after getting the first two outs of the third inning, but recovered to retire Michael Young to get out the self-induced jam. After that, he not only shut down the Texas offense, he made it look easy. He was spotting his slow curve for strikes, and that kept the Rangers off his fastball. He was also efficient with his pitches; he got through the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings with less than 15 pitches. He also had good velocity on his pitches, averaging 94.7 mph on his four-seam fastball.
The Indians got their first look at Yu Darvish, who to this point has met the high expectations placed on him. He's got the size and stuff to be a workhorse, and even though he struggled at times with command, he struck out ten batters, mostly on his numerous off-speed pitches.
The defense let Darvish down twice. In the third, Ian Kinsler lost a Johnny Damon popup in the sun, and after Jason Kipnis walked, Asdrubal Cabrera line a double down the right field line, scoring both Damon and Kipnis. Later in the inning, Shin-Soo Choo hit a ball into the hole between shortstop and third, and after Elvis Andrus backhanded the ball, he air-mailed it into the right field seats, allowing Cabrera to score the third run of the inning.
Kipnis hit a solo homer off Darvish in the fifth, pushing the lead to 4-0. That's the score Jimenez bequeathed to the bullpen, and Manny Acta tried to get through the eighth without having to use Vinnie Pestano, as a doubleheader is looming tomorrow. But Tony Sipp allowed two quick runs, so Pestano had to get warmed up and used. Pestano got out of the inning by striking out David Murphy, but now he's not likely to be available for tomorrow's day-night double-header, as he's now thrown three days in a row. Chris Perez got the save, his 11th, but he's now thrown in three out of the last four days. The Indians will need to be able to use the four other guys in the bullpen in close-and-late situations, as they simply can't ride Pestano, Perez, and Joe Smith at the rate they've done over the long season.