Chris Perez provided some late-inning drama, but on Tuesday night, the Indians walked away from the second game of their crucial series against the Orioles as 4-3 winners.
Ubaldo Jimenez kept the Baltimore lineup in check for six scoreless innings, striking out four and walking two in another quality start. His record now stands at 10-9 — more wins than he earned in the entire 2012 season. In 27 starts, he has allowed two earned runs or less in all but nine outings.
Jimenez wasn’t the only Tribe player to contribute to the win. Orioles starter Chris Tillman let the Indians get on the board first, when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Jason Kipnis in the fourth inning.
The Tribe added to their lead in the sixth, when Carlos Santana scored on another sacrifice fly off of the bat of Cabrera. With Michael Brantley at third base, Jason Kubel was intentionally walked, and Terry Francona wisely replaced him with pinch-runner Matt Carson. Yan Gomes followed with a double to left field, and Carson beat the throw to the plate to score from first and make it a 4-0 lead.
After giving up the double, Tillman was quickly replaced by T.J. McFarland, the former Indians minor-leaguer who was taken by Baltimore in the Rule Five Draft this spring. He pitched two scoreless innings, but Tillman’s mistakes would prove to be too much for the Orioles to overcome.
Cody Allen and Joe Smith each pitched a scoreless inning, and armed with a 4-0 lead, Francona sent Perez to the mound to get some work in, despite the fact that it was not a save situation. Perez allowed back-to-back singles to Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy before giving up a three-run home run to Nate McLouth. McLouth, who has been the Indians’ nemesis in this series, also homered in yesterday’s game.
Perez quickly recovered, getting two quick outs before inducing the final out off of the bat of the ever-dangerous Chris Davis. The Indians’ record is now 73-65, three games back in the race for the second wild card spot.
The Good: Jimenez has looked like a completely different pitcher this season. It’s hard to let go of the doubt that Tribe fans feel when he steps onto the mound, but he has consistently given the team a chance to win. With the loss of Justin Masterson, the team needs Jimenez to step up and be a key member of the rotation. One other bright spot: the Indians were able to take advantage of walks and sacrifices, in addition to getting some timely hitting from Gomes, in order to manufacture runs.
The Bad: Before the game, the Indians officially announced that Masterson will need time to recover from his injury and will miss starts. That’s not good news for a team that depends so heavily on him to be their pitching staff’s leader. It will be extremely difficult for them to fill his spot in the rotation.