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Second Thoughts Game #138: Orioles 3, Indians 4

Ubaldo brilliant in six as Tribe hangs on to even series

Second Thoughts Game #138: Orioles 3, Indians 4
September 4, 2013
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Big U Keeps Rolling

10-9 with a 3.79 ERA. Would you believe me if I told you these stats belong to Ubaldo Jimenez? The same Ubaldo Jimenez who lost 14 games in 2012 and hasn’t been able to get his ERA below five since arriving in Cleveland. Well, prior to the season, you probably would’ve called me crazy for predicting something along those lines. Yet here we are in September looking at the right-hander not only pitching well, but possibly putting the Indians in a position to re-sign him or another team to give him a multi-year deal. Now that I never saw coming.

On Tuesday night, Jimenez pitched six shutout innings to earn his 10th win of the season. Despite only having a record of 3-5 since the All-Star break, Jimenez has pitched about as well as you could hope compiling a 2.22 ERA in eight starts. His losses in the second half have mostly been attributed to lack of run support due the Tribe’s offensive struggles. Such was not the case on Tuesday as they provided just enough offense to hang on and win 4-3.

So depending on how the rest of his season plays out, the Tribe could consider re-signing Jimenez and/or lefty Scott Kazmir in order to fortify their big league rotation depth. Both have shown interest in coming back, but there are still many factors in play before they can come back. What price would they be asking? What other teams would be interested and how much would their value be on the free agent market?

It’s been a while since the Indians have had solid pitching and legitimate depth in their starting pitching, but with the rise of Masterson as the leader in the rotation, the emergence of youngsters in Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister, plus the rebound seasons from Jimenez and Kazmir (if one or both are re-signed), the Indians may have something to work with next season.

Opportunity keeps knocking

It feels like even at the lowest points this season for the Indians when their playoff hopes could just as easily have slipped away for the year, whether they were getting beat or beating themselves, they've never fallen fully out of the race for the postseason. While the AL Central has become Detroit’s to lose at this point once again, the wild card race continues to be a neck-and-neck battle with the Tribe right in the thick of it.

Heading into play on Tuesday night, the Indians found themselves just three and a half games in back of the second wild card spot currently in the possession of the Rays. With their win, the Tribe could stand to gain a game or remain three and a half games back. Coming out of a brutal stretch against Atlanta, Detroit and now Baltimore where the Indians have gone just 2-6, that’s huge.

Following Wednesday’s series finale against the Orioles, the Indians have arguably the most favorable schedule in baseball to finish off the season with matchups set against lowly opponents like the White Sox, Astros and Twins. Still, this is baseball and any team can be beaten on any given day, so in no way should the team or fans take this stretch lightly. However, the opportunity to make a strong push is there and it’s up to this team if they want to take advantage of it.

Facts and Notes:

  • Jason Kubel has now appeared in three games for the Tribe. He’s gone 2-for-5 with a double, three walks and three strikeouts in that time.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez has now had five shutout starts this season. He only had three previously in his career with the Indians.
  • Tribe ace Justin Masterson was diagnosed with a left oblique strain on Tuesday prior to the game. He will miss at least one start and won’t throw again until he is symptom-free. Corey Kluber will return from the DL and take his spot in the rotation.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera recorded his first multi-RBI game since August 17th against Oakland with two sac flies on Tuesday night.

Up Next: Orioles vs. Indians @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:05pm ET.

The Indians will look to claim victory in a crucial series in the wild card chase as Zach McAllister will try to deliver for the Tribe. McAllister was roughed up in his last start against Detroit where the right-hander only lasted three and two-thirds innings, but not before giving up five runs in a losing effort.

For the Birds, it will be young left-hander Zach Britton, who was called up from AAA for this start. Britton has only made six starts this season, but has faced the Tribe in one of those games taking a loss in a five-inning effort despite allowing only three runs.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

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