And just like that, the natives are hapy once again. Following a heartbreaking loss on Monday at the hands of the Tigers to fall 3.5 games back in the Central, the Indians bounced back nicely on Tuesday. Ubaldo Jimenez was solid, the offense delievered a few timely hits, and even more importantly the Tigers lost. Chips for everyone!
As previously mentioned, Ubaldo Jimenez was solid on Tuesday night. He turned in six quality innings for the first time since early June and allowed no runs on five hits while striking out four and walking two. It was quite the improvement over what we have seen from Jimenez of late. That’s not to say he has been awful, because he hasn’t, but Jimenez showed a level of control tonight that had been missing from his previous starts.
Meanwhile, Toronto starter Josh Johnson also pitched surprisingly well. Johnson has had an up and down year so far while also dealing with injuries. His seven innings of work had to be a welcomed sight for Jays fans. Over those seven innings, Johnson allowed only two runs to cross the plate on just three hits and two walks. He also managed to strike out six Indians on the evening while looking like the Josh Johnson of old.
As for the scoring, the Indians did the bulk of their damage in the bottom of the fourth. With Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis aboard with one out, Nick Swisher came through with an RBI single to right. Michael Brantley followed Swisher with an RBI single of his own to put the Indians up 2-0. As it turns out, that was all the run support Jimenez and the rest of the pitching staff would need.
The Indians would also add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. After a Drew Stubbs double to lead off the inning, the Indians executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance him to third and then a sacrifice fly by Asdrubal Cabrera brought Stubbs home to push the Tribe’s lead to 3-0.
The bullpen was also solid last night in their three innings of relief work. Cody Allen, Joe Smith, and Chris Perez combined to throw three shutout innings while giving up only three hits and a walk between them. It’s also important to note that Terry Francona opted to go with Allen in the seventh and Smith in the eighth as opposed to Vinnie Pestano. Pestano has struggled of late, especially with giving up the long ball and needed the day off to clear his head. It was a quality decision by Francona.
With the win and the Tigers’ loss, the Tribe is now 2.5 games back of the Tigers for the AL Central lead.
The Good: Ubaldo Jimenez was spectacular. Last night’s start is just the latest in the long line of solid starts. Even better, Jimenez was able to get through the sixth inning, thus allowing Francona to avoid using one less reliever on the night. Now, if only the rest of the starting rotation, Justin Masterson excluded, could begin to fall in line with similar results.
The Bad: It’s hard to really find any sort of fault with the Tribe after last night’s game. They only scored three runs, but that had more to do with Josh Johnson making a spectacular start and less to do with what the Indians did or didn’t do at the plate. They played a solid game all around. It was a quality win to bounce back with after three disappointing losses to Detroit.
The “Huh?”: In the top of the ninth with two runners on and the tying run coming to the plate, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to pinch hit for Emilio Bonifacio. A logical decision considering Bonifacio’s struggles at the plate this year, he is hitting only .206. But, Gibbons decided to send Josh Thole and his .118 average to the plate. It was certainly an odd choice. At least Bonifacio’s speed could put pressure on the defense to field the ball cleanly.