Covering the Bases: Game 102

Final:

Twins 5, Indians 1

FIRST: Monday’s off-day will mark one year since news broke that the Indians acquired Ubaldo Jimenez in a trade with the Rockies.

I said from the start that I’d wait at least a year before really sitting back and trying to determine who won or lost the trade. Well, here we are, a year later. But you know what? This deal still remains a toss-up.

I say that because none of the pieces sent to the Rockies have turned into sure-fire impact big leaguers. Now, time is on Colorado’s side, and that’s where they “win” this trade. That said, Colorado is in last place and, as difficult as it’s been to watch Jimenez at times, the Tribe is on the fringe of a division race.

Since the trade, Jimenez has gone 12-14 with a 5.08 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in 187 2/3 innings for the Indians, while Drew Pomeranz and Alex White have combined to go 7-17 with a 6.33 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP in 155 innings for the Rockies.

What about those “other guys,” you ask? Right-hander Joe Gardner has gone 4-7 with a 4.83 ERA in 21 games at Double-A in Colorado’s system. Matt McBride, who is 27 years old, has hit .359 with 10 homers and 75 RBIs in 86 games at hitter-happy Triple-A Colorado Springs for the Rockies.

So, has anyone won this trade? Definitely not. The Rockies just have more time to maybe turn it into a win. Those four players are controllable for years to come. Jimenez, on the other hand, is only under club control for one more season.

On Sunday, Jimenez dropped to 8-10 with a 5.08 ERA on the season after being charged with five runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He left in line for a quality start, but the two runners he left aboard pulled off a double steal vs. Tony Sipp and then scored on a single from Ben Revere.

SECOND: The Twins ran circles around the Indians over the past three games. Minnesota swiped five bags on Sunday, giving them nine stolen bases (four on two double steals) in the three-game sweep over the Tribe.

The nine stolen bases were the most given up by Cleveland in a three-game stretch since the team allowed 10 against the Rays from May 15-17, 2009.

Catcher Lou Marson was the victim of the five thefts Sunday, but he wasn’t at fault, according to manager Manny Acta.

“You don’t steal bases on catchers at this level,” Acta said. “Very few guys that can’t throw end up catching up here or playing every day. The guy that we had behind the plate was one of the best in the American League last year.

“Ubaldo struggles with that. That’s his history. He’s got a lot of moving parts in his delivery. Also, Tony hasn’t been very good at that as of late.”

Giving up stolen bases was an issue all of last season for Sipp, who gave up 13 swipes in 15 attempts in 2011. As for Jimenez, stolen bases have indeed been an issue throughout his career. Since 2007, Jimenez’s 108 stolen bases allowed are the fifth-most given up by a pitcher in the Majors.

“I try to execute my pitches and take care of the runner,” Jimenez said. “But those guys [on the Twins] are really fast.”

On the season, Jimenez leads the American League in most stolen bases issued (22), most wild pitches thrown (11) and most walks issued (72). Talk about a dubious triple crown. He added a balk to his 2012 resume as well in Sunday’s loss.

In the fifth inning, Ben Revere doubled with one out and, while caught in-between on a decision of whether to throw a pitch or try to pick Revere off at second, Jimenez stutter-stepped and balked. Revere moved to third and then scored on a wild pitch.

THIRD: It was the same old song and dance on Sunday with lefty Brian Duensing on the mound for the Twins. Cleveland managed one run on five hits against Duensing, who was on a limited pitch count, but still logged six innings for Minnesota.

With the loss, the Indians dropped to 10-22 against left-handed starters this season. The Indians rank last in the AL with a .219 average against southpaws and second-to-last with a .647 OPS against lefties.

The good news is the Royals have no lefties scheduled to throw in the next series.

HOME: Could this have been Shin-Soo Choo’s final game in an Indians uniform? A report out of Pittsburgh indicates that the Pirates have expressed interest in the Indians’ right fielder, who has been coming to terms with the possibility of being dealt before Tuesday’s Deadline.

“I’ve spent most of my time with the Indians,” Choo said on Sunday morning. “I’m so comfortable with the Indians. It’s been six years, so everybody in Cleveland, from the team to the people who work in the stadium, it feels like it’s good friends and like a family.

“But, the more important thing is I want to win. I want to make the playoffs.”

For more on Choo’s reaction to recent trade rumors, CLICK HERE for the story on Indians.com

On deck:

Indians (50-52) at Royals (41-60)
at 8:10 p.m. ET Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium

–JB

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