Ubaldo Jimenez struggled and the Tribe’s bullpen imploded Saturday as the Pirates beat up on the Indians, 9-2, to even the series at a game apiece. The loss drops Cleveland’s record to 33-31 and puts them back to 1.5 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central. An 0-for-3 performance also snapped Michael Brantley‘s hitting streak at 22 games.
Despite the lopsided final score, it was the Indians who drew first blood. After the Pirates failed to score in the top of the first, Asdrubal Cabrera connected off of A.J. Burnett for a one-out solo home run to give the Tribe a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long—Pedro Alvarez tied it with a leadoff homer in the top of the second and Garrett Jones‘ RBI single put Pittsburgh ahead 2-1.
Casey Kotchman took Burnett deep to temporarily tie it again in the bottom of the fifth, but Pittsburgh’s bats woke up in the late innings. Casey McGehee ripped a two-run bomb off Jimenez in the sixth and Alex Presley went yard against Tony Sipp in the seventh, but the real damage was done in the ninth. The Pirates batted around against Nick Hagadone, rocking the rookie southpaw for four runs (all earned) on three hits and a walk in a rally capped by another Alvarez home run.
The Good: Asdrubal Cabrera had a great game, going 2-for-3 with a homer and a walk. Jason Kipnis (2-for-4) also had a mutli-hit game, while Cleveland’s hitters combined to work five walks. And though Joe Smith wasn’t exactly lights out when he entered the game in relief of Tony Sipp, he kept Pittsburgh from scoring for 1.2 innings between the rallies against Sipp and Hagadone.
The Bad: It wasn’t a terrible start for Ubaldo Jimenez, but it was a disappointing follow-up to his last two superb outings. The weak-hitting Pirates knocked him for four runs on seven hits (including two home runs) in six innings. His six strikeouts against just two walks were encouraging signs, though.
Meanwhile, the Tribe’s middle relief and mop-up bullpen contingents continue to struggle, including the usually reliable Nick Hagadone, who suffered easily the worst outing of his (albeit short) career. And while this sounds worse than it is given his 2012 numbers, the Indians got held to two runs by A.J. Burnett.
The “Huh?”: I waste a long of virtual ink in this section questioning Manny Acta‘s batting orders, so at the risk of sounding patronizing I think it’s only fair to use this space to give credit where credit is due. I don’t know that I would have filled out the lineup card exactly the way Acta did Saturday night, but overall it looked pretty much how it should.
Interesting Tidbit: Ubaldo Jimenez has now allowed only three walks in his last three starts. The last time he accomplished that feat over three consecutive outings was almost exactly a year ago—June 7, June 12, and June 18, 2011.