August 14, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians center fielder Michael Brantley (23) rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
There have been times that you think Ubaldo Jimenez has turned a corner, games in which you see flashes of his former dominance. His last start against the Red Sox was one of those flashes; he struck out 10 and walked 1, and pitched well against a difficult lineup. But then he pitches like we saw last night, removing whatever promising thoughts were building in your mind.
In the first inning, the Angels smacked him around like a pitcher who doesn't have major-league stuff. But Jimenez has major-league stuff, at time elite major-league stuff, which makes these results so frustrating. You know he's capable of dominating any lineup in baseball; he's done it before for seasons at a time. And of course, in the second inning and third innings, he simply reverts into a quality pitcher, retiring the Angels in order. OK, you think, he's given up four runs, maybe he can go six innings and keep the Indians in the game.
But then the fourth inning comes around, and whatever glimmer of hope you had was thrown to the ground and stomped into a million pieces. Homer, walk, single, strike out, wild pitch, homer, game over. Then you start to think about the long-term ramifications; this was the guy that was going to make the Indians a competitor this year. This was the guy the Indians spent two highly-rated prospects on. After tonight's game, Jimenez is going to have an ERA in the mid-5s, and this is an era where those numbers rank you as one of the worst in the league. He started the game with a 74 ERA+, and when the b-ref stats are updated in a couple of hours, that number will probably be below Derek Lowe's 70 ERA+.
The Indians scored four runs late (two off Greinke, two off LaTroy Hawkins) to make the look close than it actually was. Michael Brantley is still chugging along; he went 3-for-4 on the night, and hit a two-run homer. His development into a solid starter has been one of the better things about this season, but unfortunately those good things have been drowned out by awful things, including the devolution of Jimenez as a pitcher.