Covering the Bases: Game 37

Final:

Indians 9, Mariners 3

FIRST: I know, you want to talk about how Felix Hernandez just didn’t have it going for him tonight. Well, maybe, that’s because the Indians’ hitters did have it going for them tonight. King Felix was dethroned for a day (couldn’t resist), as the Tribe banged out eight runs (six earned) and chased him from the game after 3 2/3 innings.

“I think the key is just to get good pitches to hit,” Indians DH Travis Hafner said of the team’s approach against Hernandez. “We were able to, for the most the part, lay off his offspeed stuff that starts in the zone and breaks down. I think we were able to get good pitches.”

Hernandez essentially offered up the same explanation.

“They came out with a good approach,” he said. “[They were] swinging early, but not swinging at my breaking ball. Everything was flat today, my location was not that good, and they got me pretty good.”

The Indians scored four runs in each of the first and fourth innings and managed at least two baserunners in each of the four frames Hernandez pitched. On April 19, King Felix blanked them over eight innings with 12 strikeouts. For his career, he had a 2.49 ERA against the Indians going into the night.

For one night at least, the Indians finally had his number.

SECOND: The outpouring of offense overshadowed a solid bounceback showing from Ubaldo Jimenez. The right-hander threw six innings, giving up three runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks. He logged 69 strikes in 107 pitches. Jimenez didn’t blow hitters away, but he cut down the traffic and pounded the strike zone better.

Indians manager Manny Acta said it was the best he’s seen The Big U pitch this season and Jimenez did not argue that assessment. What Cleveland needs now is a bit more consistency from the big right-hander.

Check out his last four starts:

May 16 vs. SEA: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 107 (69)
May 11 at BOS: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 0 HR, 99 (58)
May 6 vs. TEX: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 0 HR, 108 (62)
May 1 at CWS: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 1 K, 2 HR, 105 (54)

“We’re moving in a good way,” Jimenez said. “Tonight it showed. I was able to throw a lot of strikes. Now I have to try to be consistent with it.”

THIRD: The two unearned runs on Felix’s line came courtesy of a pair of throwing errors (one by catcher Jesus Montero and another by left fielder Chone Figgins) in the first inning. With two outs, Carlos Santana on first and Asdrubal Cabrera on third, and two strikes on Johnny Damon at the plate, Santana attempted a delayed steal.

Montero pump faked to second before throwing to third base with the hope of catching Cabrera sleeping. The ball sailed into left and Cabrera scored on the play. Figgins’ throw to the plate bounced away and Santana, chugging along the entire time, made it all the way around and slid into home ahead of a tag to score as well.

“It’s a play we took a shot on: delayed steal, two outs, two strikes,” Acta said. “It worked for us, but Carlos, he deserves a lot of credit because he never slowed down. That was a pretty big run. Errors or no errors, when you’re able to put up a four-spot against Felix Hernandez in the first inning, you feel like you have a chance.”

HOME: Hafner has been one of the Indians most consistent offensive performers early on this season… except with runners in scoring position. When he roped an RBI double into right field with two on in the fourth, it snapped an 0-for-25 dry spell with RISP for Pronk.

“Somebody told me about it two days ago,” Hafner said of the slump. “I was pretty surprised when I heard it. Overall, I feel like I’ve been swinging the bat really well. It was good to get a hit there and break that up, but overall I feel good. I feel like I’ve been swinging the bat well.”

On deck:

Mariners (16-23) at Indians (21-16)
at 12:05 p.m. ET on Thursday at Progressive Field
–JB

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