Covering the Bases: Game 112
Indians 5, Red Sox 3
FIRST: You’d be hard-pressed to find a pitcher inside the Indians’ clubhouse who was happy to see pitching coach Scott Radinsky fired on Thursday. Radinsky was well-liked, despite the on-field results turned in this season by the Tribe.
Ubaldo Jimenez was among those surprised to learn that “Rad” had been let go.
Say what you want about Jimenez’s performance this year, but he teamed with Radinsky for countless sessions to try to correct the pitcher’s mechanical issues this season. The results have been erratic, but the Indians new their undertaking would include incosistency until Jimenez gained a feel for the changes.
“We spent a lot of hours, a lot of days, working every day,” Jimenez said. “I am always going to be grateful for what he did for me. He was there for me every day. He came to the stadium always positive. He was never negative and he was never disappointed. He was always trying to get you up and make you better.”
Jimenez was upset to hear of Radinsky’s firing.
“I think the clubhouse is really sad,” Jimenez said. “He did everything possible. It’s my fault. It’s all the starting pitchers’ fault. We haven’t been consistent. But, that’s baseball, man.”
Against Boston, Jimenez looked like the pitcher Radinsky has been trying to help him become for the Indians. The right-hander lasted into the seventh inning, holding the Red Sox to three runs on eight hits. Along the way, he racked up a season-high 10 strikeouts and only issued one walk.
“That’s the most aggressive I’ve seen him here with his fastball,” Indians manager Manny Acta said, “and probably the best command of his fastball that he has shown so far. He was just dotting it to both sides of the plate.”
SECOND: Less than two hours from game time, Jason Donald learned that — fresh up from Triple-A Columbus — he was being thrown into the starting lineup. He’d be playing second base and leading off. That last part came as a surprise.
“I felt ready to go. I felt prepared,” Donald said. “Mayeb if it was my first time here, there might be a little more anxiety or stress associated with it, but I’ve been here before. I’ve ben in this situation before. I really just tried to roll with it.
“I didn’t think I’d be hitting leadoff. When they told me I was hitting leadoff, I was like, ‘No better way to get back in it.’ Thrown right back into the fire.”
Donald ignited Cleveland’s offense.
Felix Doubront’s third pitch rocketed off Donald’s bat and sliced down the right-field line, where it carried over the wall for a leadoff home run in the first inning. The Indians were on the board and on their way to the win.
As for second baseman Jason Kipnis, he was scratched due to stiffness in his neck. Acta said Kipnis slept funny on Wednesday and was still sore on Thursday. He’ll be re-evaluated prior to Friday’s game.
THIRD: A key turn for the Indians came in the seventh inning, when Jimenez allowed a leadoff double to Pedro Ciriaco and was pulled in favor of lefty Tony Sipp. The southpaw struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and then induced a chopper to the left side from Carl Crawford.
With the Indians clinging to a 4-3 lead, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera gloved the grounder in the hole and caught Ciriaco running too far from second base. Stuck in a rundown, Cabrera and third baseman Brent Lillibridge teamed up to chase Ciriaco down.
On the play, Crawford tried to take advantage by sprinting toward second base. After applying the tag on Ciriaco, though, Cabrera quickly turned and fired to second, where Crawford was tagged out to bring an emphatic end to the inning. Donald gave a big pump of his fist after making the last out.
Nothing like the ol’ routine 6-5-6-4 double play.
HOME: After giving up eight runs (six earned) combined in his last two outings — a pair of gut-wrenching blown saves — closer Chris Perez searched through the video footage to find something, anything, that he could change.
Well, the formerly-bearded Perez is now completely cleanshaven.
“After I went back and looked at video and realized it wasn’t mechanical,” Perez said, “I was like, ‘All right, something else has got to change.’ So I took away the beard.”
And, guess what?
“We’re 2-0 since I shaved,” Perez said with a laugh. “Baseball is a game of adjustments. Sometimes you have to make some off the field.”
Perez got back to his usual ways on Thursday with a clean ninth, picking up his 30th save of the season. He became just the fourth pitcher in Indians’ history to record back-to-back 30-save seasons, joining Doug Jones, Jose Mesa and Mike Jackson.
Acta was asked how Perez looked out on the mound.
“Chris? He looked very white,” Acta said with a smile. “Very white without that beard. He needs some sun tan.”
Red Sox (55-58) at Indians (52-60)
at 7:05 p.m. ET Friday at Progressive Field