September 14, 2013
Ubaldo Jimenez continues to roll through the season's second half. He made the longest start of his 2+ years with the Indians, going 8.1 innings, and taking a shutout into the 9th inning (he even had a slim chance at a Maddux). Ultimately, he was charged with one run, but that does little to take the shine off another steller outing. He struck out 8, while walking just one, displaying control and efficiency that
would have seemed was unimaginable a month ago.
The offense left the bases load in the 1st inning and grounded into a double play after a lead walk in the 3rd, but broke the game open in the next inning. Carlos Santana starting things off in the 4th with a single (one of three hits for him on the night), and Asdrubal Cabrera hitting a 2-run homer. Jason Giambi and Yan Gomes then reached base, before Lonnie Chisenhall cleared the bases again, putting the Tribe ahead 5-0. Santana drove in two more runs in the 6th, and after Jose Ramirez hit a pinch hit triple in the 9th, Ryan Raburn finished the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
That's twice in three games the Indians have put up a lot of runs. Friday's low output serves as a reminder that one good game won't necessarily lead to another one, and facing one of the best pitchers in baseball on Sunday (Chris Sale) means there's a good chance the scoring will fall back off in the series finale, but maybe the bats are coming back to life just in time for the regular season's final two weeks.
But back to Ubaldo.
In the last two months, Jimenez has made ten starts. He's gone 64 innings over that time, an average of 6.4, which is better than Justin Masterson (known as a workhorse) has done over the last three seasons. His ERA for those ten starts is 1.83, best of any starting pitcher in baseball over the last two months. He's averaging 10.0 strikeouts per 9 innings, against 3.2 walks per 9. He's got a case for having been the best pitcher in baseball over that time, and while I wouldn't go so far as to make that case, I would put him in the top ten.
If the Indians were to keep pitching Jimenez every fifth game, he'd pitch again Thursday (9/19) and then the following Wednesday (9/25). That would put him in line to start again on Monday, September 30th. Now, there might not be a game that day for the Indians, but if there is, it means they either reached the Wild Card game, or are tied for a spot and have a play-in game on their plate. The Indians almost certainly won't be in a position to manipulate their rotation to get the guy they want for that kind of game, but is there anyone you'd rather have on the mound right now? (No... the Indians can't trade for Clayton Kershaw.)
The Rays and Royals both won Saturday night, while the Rangers, Yankees, and Orioles all lost earlier in the day. The Rays are are ahead 4-0 as of this writing, but mired in a long rain delay. All of that leaves the Wild Card standings looking like this:
American League Wild Card Standings
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