Second Thoughts Game #123: Indians 7, Athletics 1
Jimenez, Tribe grab the easy victory and move closer in wild card race
Player of the Game: Ubaldo Jimenez (5 2/3 innings, 1 hit, 1 ER, 5 BB / 8 SO)
There are victories, and then there are much needed victories.
Saturday was definitely a much needed victory, as the Indians defeated the wild card leading Oakland A’s, 7-1.
Tribe starter Ubaldo Jimenez (9-7, 4.00 ERA) flirted with a no-hitter until the sixth inning as the Cleveland offense came through in the clutch for the easy win.
The Big U delivers a Big W
Like always, you have to first give credit where credit is due.
He may not have gone a full six innings, but Jimenez pitched one great ballgame at the Oakland Coliseum Saturday night. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit until there were two outs in the sixth inning and lowered his ERA to a season-low 4.00. Say what you will about his so-called inconsistency, Jimenez has been a lot more consistent than one may think.
Over his last 20 starts, Jimenez is now 9-5 with a 3.07 ERA allowing three runs or less in 18 of those 20 outings. I'll take those numbers from a number four or five starter in the rotation any day of the week.
Fans wish they still had Swish
Can’t script a much better night at the plate for first baseman Nick Swisher, especially in front of his former Oakland fans. Not sure I understand some of those fans booing Swisher considering he was traded to Chicago back in 2008, but that seemed to have no effect on Swish.
Finishing the ballgame 2-for-4 and belting his 13th home run, Swisher has quietly put up some better numbers of late. Over his last 10 games, the switch hitter is batting a respectable .268 (11-for-41) with two homers and seven RBI.
Personally would still love to see manager Terry Francona still slide Swisher down in the order, but with a strugglingAsdrubal Cabrera and no significant cleanup hitter in the lineup, Swish has held his own in the two-hole. Cleveland will certainly need more continued production down the stretch run.
Cabby not looking so crabby
Well, it’s about time.
After going hitless in his last 20 at-bats and just 3-for-32 (.093) over his last nine games, Cabrera finally made his presence at the plate known Saturday. The Tribe shortstop ended his ugly stretch offensively, going 2-for-4 in the ballgame with a double and two RBI.
If the Tribe has any chance at staying in the playoff race, they need the veteran and two-time All-Star to start stepping up and staying consistent on both sides of the ball. Hard to imagine, but this is the same guy that hit .292 with 25 home runs and 92 RBI just two seasons ago in 2011.
Still wouldn’t mind seeing utility man Mike Aviles give Cabrera more rest at short as the final month of the season draws closer.
It was nice to see the Tribe come up with hits in clutch situations Saturday, especially after going just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the series opener leaving 13 on base. There would be none of that against Oakland starter Dan Straily (6-7, 4.22 ERA) as the Indians jumped on him from the very first inning.
The team finished 4-for-11 (.365) with runners in scoring position, leaving only six on base.
Starting pitching has been there in both games of the series, as Jimenez and Justin Masterson have combined for a 2.70 ERA in 13 1/3 innings pitched despite spliting the first two games.
With the victory, Cleveland (66-57) now sits just 3 1/2 games in back of Oakland for the second American League wild card spot and six games behind the Detroit Tigers in the A.L. Central.
Up next for the Indians: After dropping the opener Friday night, the Tribe will look to take the three-game series against the wild card leading A’s Sunday afternoon. Lefty Scott Kazmir (7-5, 4.18 ERA) will get the nod for Cleveland and will be opposed by southpaw Tommy Millone (9-9, 4.39 ERA) at 4:05 p.m. Kazmir is 10-5 with a 3.77 ERA in his career against Oakland.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.