The Indians are back to playing good, fundamentally solid baseball. The results speak for themselves. The Indians defeated the Orioles on Monday night by a final score of 5-2 and in the process kept their positive mojo flowing. With the victory, the Tribe has now won nine of their past 12 games and their fourth straight on the road to pull back to within 3.5 games of the Tigers for the AL Central lead.
On Monday night, the Indians sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound looking to continue a string of impressive quality starts that has seen him continually look more like the player they thought they acquired at the trade deadline two years ago. Mission accomplished as Jimenez threw 5.1 innings allowing only two runs while scattering eight hits to earn his sixth win of the season.
Jimenez’s only two real mistakes on the night came in the first and fourth innings when Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters both connected for solo home runs to center field to put the Orioles up by a score of 2-0. It was a positive trade-off when you consider that Jimenez prevented the Orioles two best players, Adam Jones and Chris Davis, from inflicting any real damage on the night. Jones went 2 for 4 but was thrown out attempting to steal second while Davis went 0 for 4 with a pair of strike outs.
Meanwhile, the Indians offense struggled to find its footing against Baltimore starter Zach Britton. Over the course of the first five innings Britton was nearly unhittable. It wasn’t until the top half of the sixth when the wheels finally fell off. Before he was able to record an out, He was out of the game and by the time the inning was over, three runs had been credited to Britton’s name.
Jason Kipnis got things going in the sixth when he doubled to lead off the innings. Nick Swisher, in his second game back, immediately singled to plate Kipnis and put the Tribe on the board 2-1. Carlos Santana doubled and Mark Reynolds was intentionally walked thus allowing Michael Brantley to come to the plate and do what he does best. Brantley singled back up the middle scoring both Swisher and Santana and putting the Indians up 3-2.
Brantley would strike again two innings later.
With John McDonald aboard in the top of the eighth, Michael Brantley connected on a pitch from Darren O’Day. The two run homer, Brantley’s fifth of the year put the Indians up by a score of 5-2 and provided ample insurance should the bullpen falter in the final two innings. Fortunately, the bullpen was solid on this night combining to throw 3.2 innings of shutout baseball with Vinnie Pestano picking up his fourth save of the season.
The Good: Everything. This was one of those games that a lot of fans were worried about. The Indians have done a good job beating up on lesser opponents this year, so to go into Baltimore against a quality team and pull out a come from behind win was huge for the confidence surrounding this team. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched well again and the offense didn’t leave him high and dry. Solid game all around by the Tribe.
It was also encouraging to see Nick Swisher contribute in a positive way. He had been struggling for a while with that sore shoulder. The rest did him some good as he went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Bad: As previously mentioned, this was a solid game all around by the Tribe. The only real “bad” on the night was Michael Bourn and Mike Aviles combining to go 0 for 10 out of the top two spots in the lineup. The Indians found a way to persevere, so kudos to them.
The “Huh?”: A couple of the Indians decided to wear their socks up last night and for whatever reason it seems to work. Reynolds is no stranger to wearing high socks, but it’s rare for Swisher and Brantley. Perhaps they should keep with it considering Swisher went 2 for 4 with an RBI and Brantley 2 for 4 with four RBI.