Covering the Bases: Game 92
Rays 6, Indians 0
FIRST: Toronto and Tampa Bay have been two of the toughest places to play for visiting teams over the past few years. Dating back to 2008, the Rays’ .619 winning percentage at home is second in the American League. The Blue Jays have posted a .555 winning percentage (tied for seventh) in the same span.
Needless to say, having the Indians go 3-4 over their seven-game tour of Toronto and Tampa Bay is a win in my book, especially when you consider the type of feast-or-famine offense that showed up on the road.
The Indians hit .237 (53-for-224) as a team on the trip and scored 25 runs, or 3.4 per game. This is where it’s important to note that 19 runs and 26 hits came in two games (Saturday’s 11-9 loss at Toronto and Wednesday’s 10-6 win at Tampa Bay). That means the Tribe hit .184 (27-for-147) with just six runs scored in five of the trip’s seven contests.
As for the pitching staff, it posted a 6.08 ERA with 32 earned runs allowed over 59 innings, in which Cleveland’s arms compiled 46 strikeouts and 33 walks. The Indians rotation went 2-4 with a 6.08 ERA (25 ER/37 IP), while the bullpen went 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA (7 ER/22 IP).
It wasn’t always pretty, but it was a decent enough way to start the second half. Now Cleveland heads home for a “very important” (manager Manny Acta’s words) seven-game homestand against the Orioles and Tigers. The Indians need more consistency — in just about nearly every facet of their roster — but the team remains in the thick of things as the Deadline nears.
SECOND: The Indians dropped to 10-19 against left-handed starters this season, but it doesn’t seem fair to clump Rays ace David Price in with all the other southpaws Cleveland has seen. Price is on another level entirely, and it showed on Thursday.
Price spun seven shutout innings, scattering two hits and ending with seven strikeouts and three walks. In his career against the Indians, Price has gone a perfect 5-0 with a tidy 1.64 ERA. Over 38 1/3 innings in that span, he has limited Cleveland to 22 hits while piling up 42 strikeouts. He’s 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA against the Indians in St. Petersburg.
“That’s why I felt that [Wednesday's] win was so important for us,” Acta said. “You really don’t want to come into the last game of the series trying to tie the series against David Price. He overpowered us.”
THIRD: Through 24 batters faced, Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez did an excellent job of playing damage control. In that stretch of 5 2/3 innings, the righty had limited the Rays to one run despite giving up five hits with four walks issued and two stolen bases allowed.
“And then the ball just slipped out of my hand and hit the batter,” said Jimenes, referring to when he hit Desmond Jennings with a pitch with two outs in the sixth. “After that, that’s when everything happened. That was really tough.”
Following the hit batsmen, Jimenez gave up a single to Jose Molina and then walked Sean Rodriguez. After a quick chat on the mound with pitching coach Scott Radinsky, Jimenez surrendered a bases-clearing double to B.J. Upton that blew the game wide open.
In his previous outing, Jimenez allowed eight runs in 2 1/3 innings in a loss to the Blue Jays. Both the pitcher and Acta were encouraged by Thursday’s effort, despite the end result. Jimenez said he felt better wth his mechanics and added that he had better command of his breaking pitches.
Hopefully fo the Indians’ sake, it’s something to build on for his next time out.
HOME: Once upon a time, Luke Scott got a hit against a team other than the Indians. It was June 1, and Scott singled home a run against the Orioles in the bottom of the first inning at home.
Since then? Well, he might be sending the Indians a Thank You card.
Since that single against Baltimore nearly seven weeks ago, Scott has gone 14-for-33 against Cleveland, but 0-for-41 against the rest of the field. That is one of my favorite statistical flukes of the season. One of my Twitter followers suggested his nickname should be “Fluke” Scott. Well played.
Against the Indians, he’s hit .424 with three homers, four doubles, seven runs scored and nine RBIs in eight games in 2012. Against everyone else, Scott has hit a paltry .192 (39-for-192).
Here’s hoping an AL Central rival doesn’t trade for him before the Deadline.
Orioles (48-44) at Indians (47-45)
at 7:05 p.m. ET Friday at Progressive Field