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Jimenez Remains Hot in 7-3 Indians Victory over Rays

 

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Ubaldo Jimenez is finally coming around for the Cleveland Indians, and it couldn’t happen at a better time for the ball club. Just a month ago, people in Cleveland were calling for his head as he struggled with control, but that all changed in early June and since then, he has been on fire. On Saturday, Jimenez racked up 8 strike outs against the Tampa Bay Rays and pitched his ball club to a 7-3 victory ensuring at least a split of the four-game series before heading into the All-Star break on Monday.

Jimenez allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits in 6 innings of work, struck out 8 and walked just 1 batter. The lone walk is a welcome sign that the right hander has finally regained the control that brought him to Cleveland last season at the trade deadline. Given the fact that Justin Masterson got rocked for 8 runs on 9 hits in just 4 1/3 innings of work on Friday, the Indians need Ubaldo to take the reins and lead their rotation when they resume play next weekend. Josh Tomlin had a solid start against the Angels on Thursday night, and youngster Zach McAllister and veteran Derek Lowe are both looking like they could have the stuff to keep the club in the playoff hunt as they head into the second half of the season, they just need either Masterson or Jimenez to finally step up and become the ace of the staff.

Offensively, the Indians got to Matt More (L 5-6) early, and five different batters doubled off the left-handed rookie in his 4 2/3 innings of work. Perhaps the best sign for the Indians was that this was done without the services of Jason Kipnis and Travis Hafner, who both had scheduled days off. The Indians also started Carlos Santana at first base which gave Lou Marson a chance to be behind the plate. The move paid off as Marson went 1-3 with a walk and an RBI and raised his average up to .297 for the season. Over his past 10 games, Marson is hitting .382 (13 for 34) with 4 RBIs, 7 walks and 9 runs scored. In comparison, Santana is hitting just .187 over the same span (5 for 30) with 1 RBI and 5 walks. If this trend continues, expect to see Marson get his fair share of time behind the plate while Santana platoons at first and as a DH in the second half of the season.

Shelley Duncan had the best day overall for the Indians, going 2 for 3 with a home run (his 8 th on the year) a walk and 2 RBIs. Duncan, the proud new papa of twin boys, is hitting .345 over his last 10 appearances with 4 home runs and 9 RBIs. The Indians need a left fielder who can give them some consistent power at the plate, and it’s beginning to look like Duncan is the guy who could fill that role. Defensively, he’s a better option than Johnny Damon who simply doesn’t have the arm strength needed to throw guys out from deep in the outfield anymore.

The Indians will take the field on Sunday afternoon to close out the series with the Rays and close out the first half of the season. Zach McAllister will take the mound for the Indians against James Shields for the Rays. Shields has allowed 24 hits and one walk over the course of his last two starts, going 1-1 and working his way out of jams to keep the games close. McAllister is 2-0 since being called up to take Jeanmar Gomez’s spot in the rotation two weeks ago. He had a rough fifth inning in his last outing, but still pitched well enough to earn the victory. Prior to the game on Saturday, the Indians made a roster move, sending relief pitcher Nick Hagadone to Columbus after he allowed two runs in 2/3 of an inning worth of work in Friday’s 10-3 loss. Hagadone had an ERA of 14.00 over the last month, and the Indians felt he needed to go back down and work on his mechanics. They did not make a move to bring anyone up to fill their open roster spot, and likely will not do so until after the All-Star break.

 

 

By Robert Gonzalez
MLBCenter.com Staff Writer

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