Covering the Bases: Game 32
Red Sox 7, Indians 5
FIRST: The Curious Case of Ubaldo Jimenez continued on Friday night at Fenway Park. One outing after turning in his best start of the season, the enigmatic right-hander turned in his worst showing of the 2012 season. The search for a happy medium persists.
On Friday, Jimenez was charged with seven runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings, in which he walked five, struck out four, threw one wild pitch and hit one batter. In his previous outing against the Rangers, Jimenez gave up no runs on two hits over seven innings, piling up six strikeouts against five walks.
On the season, Jimenez is 3-3 with a 5.17 ERA, 30 walks and 24 strikeouts in 40 innings. Since being acquired by the Indians, he has gone 7-7 with a 5.13 ERA, 86 strikeouts and 57 walks in 105 1/3 innings. Everyone keeps waiting for the real Ubaldo to show himself.
“I don’t know which guy is the one that you guys are waiting for,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We just want him to be more consistent in the strike zone. I don’t think any of us is sitting here expecting 97-100 mph.
“We’re just working on his mechanics so he can repeat his delivery and be more consistent in the strike zone. He still has pretty good stuff and he can get people out.”
For what it’s worth, Jimenez said he continues to make strides with his mechanics, and he blames his mechanics for the slow start this season. When a pitcher is going through some adjustments, ups and downs are expected. Cleveland can’t afford a long-term project, though, if it wants to be a legitimate contender.
SECOND: About the offense, Acta said: “I like the fight.” Of course, most of said fight came when the game was put out of reach by Jimenez’s poor performance. Still, the Tribe scratched and clawed and was one swing away from swinging the momentum. That one big hit proved elusive, though, especially early on against Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz. Cleveland ended the evening 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position, stranding 14 runners in the loss.
THIRD: It could just be coincidence, but center fielder Michael Brantley has sure looked better at the plate since dropping into the seventh spot of the lineup. He went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs in Friday’s loss, and is now hitting .297 (11-for-37) as a No. 7 hitter this year. Granted, there’s a chance that Brantley has just been heating up at the plate, regardless of his lineup position. If that’s what the Indians believe, it might not be the worst idea to try playing the hot hand, moving him back to the leadoff spot to take a little pressure off Johnny Damon, who is clearly struggling at the plate right now. Just a thought. Or, maybe you don’t want to move Brantley in case the production is related to his new lineup spot. It’s a good topic for debate anyways.
HOME: In the second inning, Jack Hannahan tried to score from second base on a two-out single to left from Jason Kipnis. Hannahan beat the throw from left fielder Daniel nava, but catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was blocking the plate well. Still, Hannahan did an admirable job of trying to kick up Salty’s foot while sliding into the plate. No dice, though. Hannahan was ruled out and the inning ended.
Third-base coach Steve Smith charged down the line and argued the play with home-plate ump Derryl Cousins. Truth be told, Smith was simply trying to take over the arguing for Hannahan, so the third baseman wasn’t tossed from the game. Well, Cousins had a quick hook and sent Smith to the showers. Acta (a former third-base coach for the Mets and Expos) took over the third-base coaching duties for the remainder of the game.
Indians (18-14) at Red Sox (13-19)
at 7:10 p.m. ET on Saturday at Fenway Park