Covering the Bases: Game 2
Final: Blue Jays 7, Indians 4 (12 innings)
FIRST: Ubaldo Jimenez showed us there is nothing to worry about, right? Right? Well, for one game anyway. The right-hander shook off his spring woes and looked brilliant against the Blue Jays. The Big U was perfect through 17 hitters and he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Then, as he put it, “I got myself in trouble.” He walked two, threw a wild pitch and watched it all come back to haunt him in the form of a 2-run single by Brett Lawrie in the seventh.
Jimenez gave up two runs on one hit over seven.
Jimenez’s secondary stuff was extremely sharp. There were a few times he dropped his arm angle and froze hitters with a slick slider. If this is an indication of the Ubaldo the Indians will have this year, it could be a fun summer. His velocity wasn’t crazy high, but he hung around 92-95 consistently. That was just fine in colder conditions.
Unfortunately, this was the second game in a row a starter’s showing went wasted.
SECOND: Through 11 innings, the Indians had just two hits — a pair of homers. One each from Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera. Overall in the first two games, the offense has hit .135 (12-for-89) as a team. As I wrote on Thursday, that needs to improve, and it will. No lineup is going to hit under .200 on the year. It’s a slow start against some strong Toronto pitcher. Still, it hasn’t been pretty thus far. The poster boy for the early struggles has been Casey Kotchman, who is currently 0-for-12 and hasn’t hit the ball out of the infield yet. To be fair, the Jays are hitting .180 as a team.
THIRD: The Indians and Blue Jays do know they’re allowed to play only nine innings, right? After Thursday’s 16-inning marathon — the longest opener in baseball history — the teams played 12 innings on Saturday. It’s the first time since 1969 that any teams have played at least 12 innings in each of their first two games. It was easier to handle when there was an off-day following Opening Day. With another day game Sunday, both bullpens are a bit taxed right now.
HOME: Manager Manny Acta said you have to give the Blue Jays some credit, because two games in a row they have beaten the Indians’ strength. Acta referred to the Tribe’s bullpen. On Thursday, closer Chris Perez blew a save and then reliever Jairo Asencio allowed the game winner. On Saturday, Vinnie Pestano allowed a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning and Tony Sipp gave up four runs in the 12th inning. With so many extra frames, forcing guys out of their usual roles (with the exception of the blown save), some struggles are to be expected. It’s a long season and I still think the Indians’ bullpen will be fine. As for Perez, if we’re going to rip him when he struggles, we have to praise him when he does well. The closer logged a 1-2-3 inning on Saturday. Fingers off the panic button.
Toronto Blue Jays (2-0) at Cleveland Indians (0-2)
1:05 p.m. ET Sunday at Progressive Field