Records: Cleveland 24-26 Baltimore 24-23
Although each game is an entity unto itself, in the regular season each game has a cumulative effect on the state of the team. A bunch of one-run wins is great, but if the starting pitchers don't go deep into the game, those one-run wins could end up tiring out a bullpen. So the best possible way of winning is the blowout victory, in that not only do you win, but also are able to rest your key relievers in the process.
And at no time have the Indians needed a blowout victory more than today. TJ House gave the Indians six innings on Friday, but a close game today would put the bullpen in much the same state as it was after Thursday's game. Corey Kluber certainly did his part by pitching seven dominant innings, and the offense exploded for nine runs off of two former Indians pitchers.
First up was Ubaldo Jimenez, who for over two years was either horrible or outstanding for the Indians. In the second half of 2013, it was he who carried the Tribe rotation, and the Indians wouldn't have sniffed the playoffs if it wasn't for his dominating performances down the stretch. That great second half allowed him to get a four-year deal from the Baltimore Orioles, and to this point in the season the Orioles have gotten mixed results. He's had some great games, and some games like the one he pitched today. Jimenez through four inning hadn't allowed a run, but had to throw about 90 pitches to get through them. His former teammates worked the count, making him throw a lot of pitches per out, and in the fifth they finally made him pay. Carlos Santana led off the inning with a walk (one of three on the day for him), and he went to second an a Yan Gomes single through the left side of the infield. Justin Sellers, who was in for the ailing Asdrubal Cabrera for the second straight day, tried to sacrifice Santana and Gomes over, but couldn't put the ball in the play. But it actually worked out for the best, as he hit a grounder up the middle, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop made a bad feed to JJ Hardy, and not only was everyone safe, but the runner from second scored. Michael Bourn walked, loading the bases, then Mike Aviles blooped a run-scoring single in front of Nelson Cruz to score another run.
It was at this point that manager Buck Showalter had seen enough, talking Jimenez out before he could retire a batter in the fifth. He called upon TJ McFarland, a former Cleveland prospect who had been selected by the Orioles in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft. McFarland had remained on the Orioles' 25-man roster all through the 2013 season, and had been pitching in AAA until recently. McFarland had pitched last night, but because of Jimenez's short outing, was called upon again today. He started his day by hitting Michael Brantley, forcing home the third run of the game. Then Lonnie Chisenhall, who has mostly sat versus left-handers this season, had an outstanding at-bat that ended with a sharp single to right field, driving home another run. Ryan Raburn then hit into a double play, but another run scored, pushing the lead to 5-0.
Meanwhile Corey Kluber completely dominated the Orioles, striking out nine and walking just two in seven innings. As mentioned above, the nice outing came at the perfect time, as the back end of the bullpen needed another day off after being used heavily over the past week.
The Indians put the game completely out of reach by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh. Ryan Raburn drove home two with a double, and Carlos Santana topped everything off with a two-run homer off Brad Brach. Those four runs allowed Terry Francona to take Kluber out of the game after seven innings, and finish off the game with John Axford and Scrabble. Scott Atchison, Cody Allen, and Bryan Shaw have now gotten two days off, and should be in good shape over the next four games.
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