Jimenez pitches another gem, Indians edge Royals, 4-3
Tribe rookie sparks offense, as team picks up huge division victory
CLEVELAND—Lookout Tribe Town, there’s a new Ramirez in town!
In an early September battle for a wild card spot, the Indians continue to do what they have done all season long; grind out wins. Monday night showed just that as the Tribe squeezed past the Kansas City Royals, 4-3 to take game one of the three-game series.
“That was nail biting as you can get,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Clinging to a 4-3 lead, Tribe closer Chris Perez allowed the first two Royals batters to reach base to start the ninth inning. After a sac bunt by David Lough moved them to second and third, Perez settled in striking out pinch hitter Carlos Pena for the second out.
Walking another Kansas City pinch hitter in George Kottaras to load the bases with two out, Perez recorded his 23rd save getting center fielder Alex Gordon to fly out to send his team to another huge victory.
“Everybody knows what’s going on here,” Francona said. "As nerve racking as it is, it’s a lot of fun to be a part of.”
The win moves Cleveland (77-66) just 1.5 games in back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second A.L. wild card spot. They also gain a game in the Central Division as they sit 4.5 games behind the first place Detroit Tigers.
“I prayed a little bit,” Tribe starter Ubaldo Jimenez said after watching Perez in the ninth.
Fans didn’t need to pray for Jimenez to give the home team another gem Monday, he stepped up and delivered again.
Jimenez (11-9, 3.62 ERA) looked brilliant in his seven innings of work, allowing one unearned run on seven hits, walking none and striking out 10. The right-hander has now recorded 10 strikeouts in three of his last four starts, logging at least six innings in four straight.
As a member of the National League Champion Colorado Rockies back in 2007, Jimenez has enjoyed playing for a playoff spot this month.
“That’s what you play for,” he said. “To be in the postseason or at least playing to get there it’s really fun, every game means something.”
Losing a league-high 17 games in 2012, the starter continues to look like his old self.
“I’ve been feeling pretty good and not beat myself up walking guys or getting behind the count,” Jimenez said. “I try to get ahead and stay ahead.”
Offensively, the Indians got on the board early with a solo homer from Asdrubal Cabrera in the second. It was the shortstop’s second home run over the last three games after a 24 game homerless streak dating back to August 9.
Cleveland would go onto score three of their four runs on the night via the long ball, as Yan Gomes belted his tenth homer in the fifth inning before Carlos Santana hit his team-leading 18th in the seventh. All three blasts came off Royals starter Ervin Santana (8-9, 3.35 ERA). The K.C. starter went seven innnings giving up four runs (three earned) on just four hits for the loss.
With the Tribe up 4-1 after a RBI single by Eric Hosmer put the Royals on the board, things looked like they would finish easy for the Tribe.
Gordon changed all that with one swing of the bat, hitting a two-run homer off reliever Cody Allen in the eighth inning to pull within one run.
Despite the rapid heart beats of Tribe fans in the ninth, the night belonged to both Cleveland and a 21-year old prospect.
Getting his first MLB start, Tribe rookie Jose Ramirez recorded his first big league hit with a single to left field in the third inning. Going 2-for-3 in the ballgame, it was his legs that stirred up the most attention.
“He was all over the ballpark tonight,” Francona said, “He played with pure passion and joy.”
The rookie came all the way around to score in the third inning on a Drew Stubbs groundout to third after a throwing error by Hosmer allowed Ramirez to score on the play.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent back in 2009, Ramirez hit .273 with three home runs and 38 RBI in 113 games with the Double-A Akron Aeros this season. At just 21-years old, Francona wanted to give the infielder the start.
“I’ve been wanting to get the kid in the game,” Francona said. “I just thought with his speed he’s not overwhelmed with the moment, and he helped us.”
Through a translator after the game, Ramirez showed that just that.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “He feels really good that he helped the team out and thanks God for the opportunity.”
Ramirez also said he plans on giving his baseball from his first big league hit to his mom, Xiomara back in the Dominican Republic.
“You could see he was just happy to get out there and he helped us, he kind of gave everyone a spark,” Francona said.
He becomes the first "Ramirez" to collect a hit in an Indians uniform since Manny Ramirez homered off Toronto pitcher John Frascatore in his Tribe at-bat on Oct. 1, 2000.
It was Manny who also recorded his first hit with the Indians as a 21-year old back in 1993.
While it's highly unlikely this Ramirez will grow out dreadlocks or become one of the game's best hitters, it's nice to see the start of a promising big league career begin.
Notes: Indians left fielder Michael Brantley returned to the lineup Monday after his wife gave birth to their daughter Mariah on Saturday....The Tribe improves to 30-14 on the year when Gomes collects at least one hit in a ballgame....Cleveland has now won six straight meetings with the Royals at Progressive Field.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glad tribe has these guys for awhile
Kluber, McAllister, Salazar,(bauer)