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Second Thoughts Game #104: Rangers 0, Indians 6

Jimenez hurls eight shutout innings as the Tribe sweeps Texas

Second Thoughts Game #104: Rangers 0, Indians 6
July 29, 2013
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Player of the Game: Ubaldo Jimenez (8 innings, 2 hits, 0 ER, 3 BB / 6 SO)

The Leadoff

For the first time in 33 years, the Indians have swept the Texas Rangers in Cleveland.

At the center of it all for the Tribe was another outstanding starting pitching performance, this time by right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (8-5, 4.17 ERA).

Jimenez went a dominant eight shutout innings against the Rangers offense, surrendering just two hits while walking three and striking out six.

The victory marked the ninth time the team has won in their last 13 ballgames.

The Big U looking like the old U

When it comes to Jimenez, things can't get anymore consistent. Wow, how many times have we heard those words since the right-hander was traded to Cleveland in July 2011?

This may honestly be the first. 

Tossing eight innings for just the third time in two years as a member of the Indians, Jimenez continues to look like the pitcher and ace he was while on the Colorado Rockies. The team has won seven of his last nine outings, as Sunday marked the 13th time in 21 starts Jimenez has given up two runs or less.

I can't believe this is the same pitcher that lost a league leading 17 games last season, finishing with a 5.40 ERA. Those days are over Tribe fans, it's time to embrace the effective No. 2 starter Jimenez has become as he andJustin Masterson make a forceful 1-2 punch.

Another team shutout

Sunday’s victory marked a major league leading 14th time the Tribe has shutout the opposition this season, 11 of the 14 coming at Progressive Field.

Anyway you look at it, the zeros on the scoreboard all start and end with great starting pitching.

Over the last three weeks, Indians starters are a remarkable 8-2 with a 1.79 ERA. It sure doesn’t look like the team will be adding a starter before the MLB trade deadline if you ask me.

For those that have said the Tribe cannot matchup with the Detroit Tigers five starters, you may want to think again. Here is Masterson and Corey Kluber’s combined stats matched up against Tigers starters Justin Verlander andMax Scherzer.

Masterson & Kluber: (19-12, 3.55 ERA) 80 BB / 257 SO in 256 innings

Verlander & Scherzer: (25-9, 3.49 ERA) 82 BB / 296 SO in 281.1 innings

Take it for what it’s worth, the Indians starting rotation matches up just fine with the reining American League Champs.

Swisher sweet

First baseman Nick Swisher was one of two players in the lineup that collected three hits Sunday, as the switch-hitter went 3-for-5 bumping his average up to .246 on the year.

Swisher has thrived offensively after being moved to the two-hole in the Cleveland lineup by manager Terry Francona. Since the move began on July 22, Swisher has hit .333 (9-for-27) with two homers and two RBI in his last six games.

We all know the type of presence and leadership Swisher has brought off the field in the clubhouse, now it’s great to finally see him showing his veteran leadership on the field and producing up at the top of the lineup.

Cleveland is going to need Swisher to continue to be a force at the plate as they make their push toward October.

Don’t mess with The Yanimal

I’ve been stressing it all season long: Yan Gomes deserves the chance to be the Indians everyday starting catcher.

Sunday was just the third time the catcher caught Jimenez this year. Was it a coincidence the right-hander hurled arguably his best pitching performance of the season? Maybe, but Gomes has shown that for a rookie, he calls a great game behind the plate.

Offensively, the catcher went 3-for-4 in the ballgame driving in a run on a RBI single in the sixth inning.

Over his last 10 games, the Brazilian native is hitting .368, with a homer, four RBI and five runs scored. Gomes is now hitting .283 on the season.

Both his offensive and defensive skills combined with the ability to call a great game behind the plate have already given him more playing time. I would not be surprised at all to see Gomes as the team’s starting backstop come Opening Day 2014.

Closing Time

With the win, Cleveland (56-48) remains just three games in back of Detroit for first place in the A.L. Central. It also puts them just one game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the last wild card spot.

Driving in another run in the ballgame, Indians center fielder Michael Bourn has collected 12 RBI over his last eight games. He had just 19 RBI in 68 games before the All-Star break.

Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will open up a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox starting Monday.Zach McAllister (4-6, 3.57 ERA) takes the hill in the series opener against left-hander John Danks (2-8, 4.81 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. McAllister will try and win a game for the first time since May 23 at Boston. Danks is 4-8 with a 4.94 ERA lifetime versus Cleveland.

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at jberdysz27@gmail.com.

User Comments

Jim
July 29, 2013 - 5:58 PM EDT
Only called Jimenez a #2 starter because in a playoff series, I see Tito pitching Ubaldo in Game 2 if the Tribe do in fact play in October.

He's given up 3 runs or less in 11 of his past 12 starts and if you take away his worst 2 starts this yr (both of which came in April when he gave up 7 earned runs) Jimenez would be 8-3 with a 3.22 ERA.

Whether he's a #2, 3, or 4 starter, the bottom line is he can finally be relied upon to go out and get the job done every 5 days.
Tony
July 29, 2013 - 1:12 PM EDT
Yeah, not sure where Jim is going there calling Jimenez a #2. He's a solid #4-5 starter and has become reliable in such a role. Amazing to see his turnaround, though to be considered much more valuable and reliable he has to consistently get through 6 innings. But man, what a start yesterday. If in fact he is turning things around and pitches close to how the Indians thought he would when they acquired him two years ago, this could be a fun August/September.
Adam
July 29, 2013 - 1:08 PM EDT
Hate to be the Debbie Downer...but Jimenez is not a #2 starter. He's a decent #5, which is great compared to what he was last year. You said it yourself...only 3 times has he lasted 8 innings in his last two years. He's completed 6 innings only 7 times this year. The fact that he has a decent ERA is nice...but it has a lot more to do with Tito taking him out before guys get to face him a third time.
Matthew
July 29, 2013 - 11:38 AM EDT
Only if you are desperate to accentuate a negative. The real story is that the Indians posted back to back shutouts of a contending team and are now only 1 game out of the wildcard. Attendance is disappointing, but I am very confident that attendance will spike if the Indians are contending for a playoff spot in late August-September.
Mark
July 29, 2013 - 11:31 AM EDT
Isn't the 19,673 attendance the real story here?

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