Ubaldo Jimenez struggled out of the gate and the Tribe’s middle relief corps failed to provide much relief Monday afternoon as the Yankees beat up on the Indians, 11-6, sending Cleveland to a frustrating loss in front of 41,567 fans at the 2013 home opener.
Jimenez certainly got off on the wrong foot. After walking Robinson Cano and giving up a base hit to Kevin Youkilis, Ubaldo served up a meaty fastball right in Travis Hafner‘s wheelhouse and he deposited it over the center field wall to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. It didn’t take the Indians long to respond: three batters into the the first inning Jason Kipnis drove Michael Bourn in with a sacrifice fly off New York starter Hiroki Kuroda to put the Tribe on the board, and two batters later Michael Brantley followed with an RBI single. A Carlos Santana walk loaded the bases with one out, and though Mark Reynolds‘ sacrifice fly was all the offense Cleveland could muster, it was enough to tie the game at 3-3.
The Yankees began to pull away in the middle innings, scoring in five innings in a row starting with Travis Hafner’s RBI single in the third. Brett Gardner hit an RBI single in the fourth innings and Cano hit solo home runs in both the fifth and sixth, sandwiching an Ichiro Suzuki RBI single. Then, in the eighth, Hafner scored and Vernon Wells moved to third as Asdrubal Cabrera made an errant throw on an Ichiro ground ball, Wells came home on Rich Hill‘s wild pitch, and Eduardo Nunez brought Ichiro home with a sacrifice fly to make it 11-3 New York.
To their credit, the Indians kept fighting long after the game appeared lost. Mike Aviles launched a two-run homer off Shawn Kelley in the eighth inning; Bourn followed that up with a two-out triple and scored on Kelley’s wild pitch to Ryan Raburn. They persevered in the ninth too as Nick Swisher and Lou Marson (filling in for Santana, who left the game after a pitch hurt his thumb while he was behind the plate in the ninth inning) drew walks off Joba Chamberlain, but they were unable to score as the Yankees sealed the deal on an 11-6 loss Tribe fans would probably like to forget.
The Good: ‘Twas a great day for the offense as Tribe hitters scored six runs on nine hits while drawing eight walks against Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees’ bullpen. Michael Bourn was the offensive MVP, going 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored. Also, Carlos Santana went 1-for-2 with two walks and Mike Aviles homered in his only plate appearance of the game.
The Bad: Ubaldo Jimenez. The Tribe’s No. 2 starter followed up on his excellent season debut by giving up seven runs (all earned) on seven hits while walking three Yankees in just 4.1 innings of work. It was clear just from watching him pitch that something wasn’t right—so diminished was his velocity that MLB.com’s Pitchf/x logs categorized Jimenez’ fastballs as changeups.
Also, it was worrisome to see Carlos Santana have to leave with what could possibly be a serious injury. And it was painful to see Travis Hafner tee off against Jimenez after the Indians declined to re-sign him in the offseason.
The “Huh?”: Terry Francona‘s batting order Monday was the same one he used on Opening Day; it’s probably safe to say that this will be his default lineup going forward. That means No. 6 hitter Carlos Santana, who almost every major projection system sees as the team’s best hitter, is likely to be buried in the bottom of the order for some time. Wouldn’t we be better off giving him as many at-bats as possible?
Interesting Tidbit: Hiroki Kuroda’s six strikeouts tied the most he’s fanned in a start outside Yankee Stadium since July 23, 2013.