Ubaldo Jimenez struck out 10 batters and the offense came alive against Boston starter Felix Doubront as the Indians opened a four-game series against the Red Sox with a 5-3 victory. The win, Cleveland’s second straight, improved the Tribe’s record to 52-60 and brought them within nine games of the AL Central lead.
The Indians got off to a strong start. Jason Donald, hitting first and playing second base in place of Jason Kipnis, took Felix Doubront deep on his third pitch of the game to put the Tribe ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first. Meanwhile, Ubaldo Jimenez seemed to have rediscovered his swing-and-miss stuff, as he took a no-hitter into the third inning against one of the best offenses in the game.
But the Red Sox got going in the middle innings. Dustin Pedroia led off the fourth with a single to set up Adrian Gonzalez‘ two-run home run as Boston took a 2-1 lead. Pedroia then knocked Jimenez for an RBI double in the top of the fifth to bring Jacoby Ellsbury home and put the Sox up 3-1.
The Tribe came raring back in the bottom of the fifth. After Casey Kotchman led off with a groundout, Lou Marson singled and Donald worked a walk to put the tying run on base. Asdrubal Cabrera delivered with an RBI double to score Marson and Shin-Soo Choo drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases. Carlos Santana came through with an RBI single to tie the score and knock Doubront out of the game, and Michael Brantley capped the rally with a sacrifice fly. Andrew Miller managed to get out of the inning after that, but not before Cleveland had taken a 4-3 lead.
The Indians loaded the bases again in the bottom of the eighth—Ezequiel Carrera and Brent Lillibridge singled, Kotchman laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Marson drew a walk—and added an insurance run on Donald’s RBI fielder’s choice. Meanwhile, Jimenez pitched into the seventh before entrusting the game to the bullpen; Tony Sipp, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez kept the Sox scoreless in the late innings as Cleveland held on for a 5-3 win.
The Good: Ubaldo Jimenez had one of his best starts of the season, holding the Red Sox to three runs on eight hits while pitching into the seventh inning. Better yet, he fanned 10 betters while allowing only one walk—far better than his norm this season on both counts.
Offensively, it was a great night for Jason Donald, who went 1-for-4 with a home run, a walk, two runs scored, and two RBI. Carlos Santana also had a big night, going 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.
The Bad: Poor Shelley Duncan was the only Indians batter to go hitless Thursday night, going 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts. Nothing to worry about, but you always feel bad for the one guy who doesn’t get on base.
The “Huh?”: Jason Donald entered Thursday hitting .188 with 17 strikeouts and only one extra-base hit in 54 plate appearances—according to wRC+, he’d hit 75 percent worse than a league-average MLB batter—yet Manny Acta pencilled him in in the leadoff spot. Why give one of the worst batters in the lineup the most chances to hit?
Interesting Tidbit: Thursday marked only the second time since his trade to the Indians that Ubaldo Jimenez struck out more than eight batters. The first time was August 26, 2011 against the Royals.