Second Thoughts Game #95: Indians 6, Royals 4
Cabrera's clutch double in sixth inning gives Tribe the series sweep
Player of the Game: Asdrubal Cabrera (3-for-5) with a double and 2 RBI
Down 4-3 in the home half of the sixth, the Tribe scored three runs off Royals lefty Tim Collins to route Kansas City, 6-4 sweeping the three-game series.
No hit was bigger than shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-run double off Collins in the inning, giving Cleveland the late lead it would not waiver.
Offensively, the Indians were able to get the leadoff man on in six of their eight innings, notching their fifth series sweep of the year.
Cabby heating up?
Entering Sunday with a .248 batting average, Cabrera collected three hits in a ballgame for the sixth time this season.
He hasn’t been his own self, but the 27 year old shortstop still makes the team better in every facet of the game. Ending the first half with seven hits in his last 16 at-bats, Cabrera will look to take a slow first half and start fresh after the All-Star break.
As the MLB trade deadline nears at the end of July, Cabby has also been the center of possible trade talks and rumors over the past couple weeks.
If the Indians do indeed trade the two-time All-Star, they want a young, front of the rotation starter in return. With Mike Aviles on the roster and top prospect Francisco Lindor waiting in the wings, Cleveland can still contend for the A.L. Central title even if they deal Cabrera.
Ubaldo struggles no concern
Tribe starter Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4, 4.56 ERA) lasted just four innings Sunday giving up four runs on eight hits for a no-decision in the contest. He threw 48 of his 76 pitches for strikes, walking two and striking out two.
Things would have finished much different for the right-hander, if home plate umpire David Rackley didn’t blow a call at the plate in the second inning that cost Jimenez two runs on the afternoon.
Despite not being able to go five innings, Jimenez finishes the first half 4-1 with a 3.33 ERA in his last 10 starts.
The key for the lanky right-hander now will be staying consistent after the All-Star break. It was just last season that Jimenez finished the first half with eight wins, only to go 1-10 with a 6.63 ERA over his last 14 starts of the 2012 season.
Having done a nice job with Jimenez and the rest of the Indians rotation this season, there’s no way pitching coach Mickey Callaway allows that to happen to Jimenez again.
Kip dips into history
I’m really starting to run out of words to describe All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis.
Finishing the game 2-for-2 with two RBI, Kipnis ends the first half with a team high .301 batting average, 13 home runs, 57 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
Kipnis joins Hall of Famer and former Tribe second baseman Robbie Alomar as the only two players since 1916 that finished the first half with at least 20 stolen bases, 35 extra base-hits, 45 walks and 55 RBI.
Cleveland has done exceptionally well when the second baseman lights up the scorecard, as the Indians are now 31-9 when Kipnis scores a run, 39-23 when he has a hit, and 13-6 when he steals a base. Coincidence? You bet.
You can catch Kipnis and ace Justin Masterson at the MLB All-Star Game this Tuesday at 8:05 p.m.
CC Lee great in MLB debut
Taiwanese rookie CC Lee finally got the chance to contribute out of the Indians bullpen, pitching in his MLB debut Sunday.
Tossing a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, Lee gave up just one walk and no hits in his first big league appearance. There is a lot to like about the 26 year old right-hander, as I believe he will become a valuable piece of the Tribe bullpen the rest of this season.
Let’s face it, he won’t make us forget about CC Sabathia or Cliff Lee anytime soon either.
The sweep is complete
I don’t think you could end the first half much better than the Indians did on Sunday. Not only did the team sweep the Royals, but ended the first half winners of five of their last six, and six of their last eight ballgames.
Having won at least 50 games before the All-Star break for the first time since 2007, the Tribe will look to play some meaningful games in the final two month stretch, hoping to play in October for the first time since that magical ’07 season.
It won’t be easy, but buckle up Bro-hio, it’s going to be one memorable ride.
With the win, Cleveland (51-44) remains just 1.5 games in back of Detroit for first place in the A.L. Central. The team has now won five of its last six ballgames, improving to 8-5 against Kansas City this season.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will now get a much needed four day break as the 84th MLB All-Star Game and festivities take place from Monday-Thursday this week. When the second half of the season does kickoff, the Indians will travel to Minnesota to start a three-game series with the Twins. Left-hander Scott Kazmir (5-4, 4.60 ERA) will get the start against Minnesota’s Mike Pelfrey (4-7, 5.55 ERA) Friday at 8:10 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.