June 5, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Where did that come from?
It had gotten to the point where I dreaded watching an Ubaldo Jimenez start. Yeah, he'd eke out a Quality Start from time to time, but even those were tough slogging, with him getting the last out in the sixth on the cusp of 100 pitches. But tonight he not only got a good result, he made it look easy. He seemed to emphasize his four-seam fastball, and not only did he throw it for strikes, but the Detroit hitters seemed to have difficulty in centering it. That pitch set up everything else in his considerable arsenal, and for at least one night, he looked like the pitcher the Indians envisioned when they cleaned out their pitching prospect stable last July.
Jimenez started shakily, hitting Quintin Berry to start the game; that hit by pitch ended up scoring, but it would be the last time a Detroit batter reached due to wildness until the seventh inning. Jimenez, who is leading the league in walks, almost finished his start with one walk on his ledger. That meant Jimenez not only was more effective within an at-bat, but that he was able to last longer into the game.
Jimenez wasn't the only player to buck the trend tonight; the Tribe offense actually did well against a left-handed starter. The Indians hadn't face Drew Smyly before, and it showed; the first four batters of the game struck out. But after their first look at the lanky southpaw, they settled down and started to hit. Lou Marson, who is starting to look much better at the plate (just in time for Carlos Santana to return), got the Indians' first hit in the third. He was erased at second on a fielder's choice hit by Choo, but Choo was chased home by an Asdrubal Cabrera triple hit to the deep right field gap.
Comerica Park has one of the largest outfields in baseball, and that means more triples than most parks. The Indians came into the game with only 7 team triples, and the Indians don't really have a lineup full of slow plodders. But in their first game in Comerica, they bumped their total from 7 to 10, as Asdrubal's third inning triple only the first of three on the evening. Marson tripled home Lonnie Chisenhall in the fifth to make the score 2-1, then he scored on a Choo single. Michael Brantley collected a triple of his own in the sixth, driving home Shelley Duncan after Brennan Boesch totally missed the ball while diving for a line drive to right-center.
The Tigers wouldn't score again until the ninth inning, a single tally off closer Chris Perez, who didn't have his good slider. But he inherited a three-run lead and the comfortable margin than came with it, so he was able to allow two hits and a run and still record his 18th save.