Second Thoughts Game #90: Blue Jays 0, Indians 3
Shutout pitching and proper execution gives Indians bounce-back win
A Quality Start for Ubaldo
Whether you like him or not, Ubaldo Jimenez has been a solid contributor to the Indians rotation this season. While I’m sure we can all agree he’s far from being the Cy Young-contending ace he once was, he has been at least serviceable at the very minimum. Then again, being 7-4 with a 4.37 ERA is a tad better than serviceable.
On Tuesday night, the right-hander pitched six shutout innings against the Blue Jays and better yet limited his pitch count to a reasonable amount over that period. The biggest knock against Jimenez this season despite his effectiveness has been dealing with escalating pitch counts and being forced to leave the game after five innings or less during starts.
Such was not the case as the 29-year-old battled his way effectively through six innings pitching in and out of trouble all night except the sixth inning to earn his seventh win of the year.
Bullpen Adjusting To New Roles
Since the announcement was made that Vinnie Pestano would temporarily be removed from the eighth-inning setup role before Monday’s game, the bullpen has pitched much better, sans the two-run double allowed by Matt Albers in the tenth inning of Monday’s game.
The new seventh-eighth-ninth inning combo of Cody Allen, Joe Smith and Chris Perez was effective on Tuesday night pitching three shutout innings allowing only two hits, a walk and striking out two batters. While Vinnie Pestano isn’t expected to be out of his setup role for long, anything this adjusted back-end combo can provide that shows any resemblance of the dominance last year’s trio had, it will certainly be welcome in Cleveland.
All About Execution
Give the offense credit. They manufactured runs and executed in key situations, something that they arguably could have done a better job of on Monday night not only when they had chances to take a sizeable lead early in the game, but also when they had the opportunity to take the victory in walkoff fashion in the bottom of the ninth where they had a runner at second in the form of speed demon Drew Stubbs with no one out and couldn’t score.
So many questions followed that extra innings loss regarding the execution and lack thereof in that ninth inning. An argument could be made that the playing conditions that night were not ideal for base running even for the fleet-footed Stubbs, thus taking a potential steal or sacrifice bunt off the table. Considering that fellow speedster Michael Bourn was caught in a rundown earlier in the ballgame due to lack of traction on the base-paths, those doubts could be well-founded.
Regardless, the runs came via small-ball fashion, particularly in the eighth inning where Stubbs once again reached second base with a leadoff double. This time, however, that sac-bunt plan was put into action as Bourn laid down a beauty to move Stubbs over to third. Finally, a deep sacrifice fly by Asdrubal Cabrera brought Stubbs home to score an all-important insurance run.
In order to be successful, you have to be able to execute in key scoring opportunities because you won’t get the long ball or the big extra-base knock every time.
Quote of the Game:
"We didn't do a lot offensively, but we played a crisp game. It starts with pitching," - Terry Francona on his team's shutout win.
Quick Game Facts:
- Despite being 28th in the majors in team ERA, the Indians lead the American League in shutouts at 11, second in MLB only to the Pirates (12), who have the best team ERA in baseball.
- In 12 total innings against the Blue Jays this season, Ubaldo Jimenez has only allowed one run. He allowed 10 runs in just nine and a third innings vs. Toronto last year.
- Indians closer Chris Perez has not allowed a run to score in seven appearances since coming off the DL. He’s 4-for-4 in save opportunities in that time.
- First baseman Nick Swisher is now hitting .300 with two homers and seven RBI’s since taking a week off to nurse a sore shoulder.
Up Next: Blue Jays vs. Indians @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:05pm ET.
A familiar face will toe the rubber against the Tribe in game two of this three-game series. Former Indians reliever Esmil Rogers, now in a starter role, will face off against Tribe ace Justin Masterson as the Erie Warriors look to bounce back with a series win after a disappointing weekend series against Detroit.
Speaking of which, the Tigers found themselves on the losing end of a slugfest put on by the Chicago White Sox. Thanks to the 11-4 win by the Pale Hose on Tuesday night, the Indians now find themselves right back within striking distance of the Motor City Kitties at two and a half games back.
The Indians have a much lighter schedule in the second half of the season compared to the competition they had to face in the first half. It’s up to the team now if they can take advantage.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.