The Tribe’s woes against the White Sox continued as Cleveland (11-10) dropped the opener of a three-game series against Chicago (12-11) at U.S. Cellular Field Tuesday night.
Rain delayed the start of the game, but it didn’t take long for either team to get on the board after that. The Indians opened the scoring in the top of the second as Shelley Duncan and Jason Kipnis connected off Chicago starter Chris Sale for back-to-back doubles. But A.J. Pierzynski—he just seems to have the Tribe’s number—single-handedly answered with a solo shot off Ubaldo Jimenez to tie the game, 1-1.
It didn’t take long for the White Sox to get to Jimenez again. Gordon Beckham led off the bottom of the third with a solo home run before Chicago loaded the bases with nobody out. Jimenez promptly walked Paul Konerko, and he allowed two more runs before he got out of the inning. The Pale Hose led 5-1 after three.
But Chicago wasn’t done. RBI singles from Alexei Ramirez in the fourth and Beckham in the fifth gave the White Sox a six-run lead before Jimenez was chased from the game. Duncan took Ohman deep in the seventh for a solo home run and the Indians loaded the bases in the ninth, but ultimately the Tribe fell far short in the 7-2 loss.
The Good: The bullpen. The Indians’ chances of winning were already slim by the time Ubaldo hit the showers, but Jairo Asencio and Nick Hagadone did their darndest to keep them in the game. Asencio and Hagadone combined to throw 3.1 shutout innings earning three strikeouts without allowing a single hit or walk. In particular, that Asencio tossed 2.1 frames by himself meant that the Indians could keep at least one other pitcher fresh for the rest of the series.
It was also nice to see Shelley Duncan have such a big day—he went 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, and a home run. With Johnny Damon slated to make his Indians debut Wednesday and Duncan expected to lose the most playing time at Damon’s expense, I was glad to see him refusing to give Manny Acta a reason to bench him.
The Bad: Ubaldo Jimenez was at his worst Tuesday. He allowed seven runs (four earned) on eight hits, ceding two home runs and lasting just 4.2 innings. He got just one strikeout against the free-swinging White Sox yet allowed six free passes—even with the bases loaded he couldn’t find the plate and thus walked in a run. This may have been his most troubling start yet.
The “Huh?”: The “Jason Kipnis is hitting too low in the order” saga continued Tuesday as Kipnis hit seventh while Jason Donald was given the honor of the No. 2 spot. Donald has really struggled this year (.206/.216/.206) and just isn’t worthy of getting the second-most plate appearances in the lineup. Why does he get precedence over Kipnis?
Interesting Tidbit: Jimenez’ single-strikeout performance marked just the second time he had earned only one K in a start since 2009. The only other outing in the last four seasons in which he got just one punchout came on April 1, 2011.