Indians pull within two games of Tigers
With a gutsy trade, the Cleveland Indians grabbed an ace at the trading deadline.
On Wednesday night, he was dealing.
Ubaldo Jimenez showed why the Indians bargained their future and traded for him, winning his home debut and rookie Jason Kipnis went 5-for-5 with four runs and three RBIs as the Indians pulled within two games of Detroit in the AL Central by beating the Tigers 10-3.
''That was exactly what we needed, especially after our bullpen went 12 innings,'' said Indians manager Manny Acta, who had to use eight pitchers in a 14-inning marathon win in Tuesday's series opener. ''I feel like Ubaldo could have thrown a shutout. He was fantastic.''
With their 13th straight win at Progressive Field over Detroit, the Indians now have a chance to sweep the Tigers for the second time this year. That is, if they can beat Justin Verlander on Thursday.
Jimenez (1-0), the most coveted pitcher before the July 31 deadline, allowed three runs and six hits in eight power-packed innings. He struck out six, walked one and fed off a Cleveland crowd that hung on every pitch like it was October.
''It was special being my first start here,'' said Jimenez, flashing a high-beamed smile.
Thrust into the middle of a playoff chase, Jimenez is being counted on to carry the Indians to the postseason. And that's just where he wants to take them. The pressure is nothing new to the right-hander, who has pitched in the playoffs before and wants to feel them again.
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''Every count. Every pitch. Every inning. It's really fun,'' he said.
Kipnis hit a two-run homer off Rick Porcello (11-7) in the second. He added three singles, a double and became the first Cleveland rookie in 59 years to get five hits and score four times. Jim Fridley did it on April 11, 1952, at Philadelphia.
He's setting the bar pretty high.
''I've got to tone it down a little, I guess,'' Kipnis joked.
Kipnis has already become a fan favorite among Cleveland fans, who admire his scrappy style.
''He's a dirt bag,'' Acta said. ''One of those guys who will run through a wall every day. A guy that does everything he can to win.''
That seems to the case with Jimenez, who Acta referred to as ''The Big U.'' Before the game, Acta said Jimenez has the ''stuff to be a No. 1 starter. The guy that gets everyone's attention.''
He's certainly put the rest of the AL on notice.
With Jimenez, Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin, the Indians have a trio of starters that could do serious damage in the postseason — provided they can pass the Tigers, hold on and get there.
Cleveland gave up four prized prospects, including top pitchers Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, to the Rockies for Jimenez, who won 19 games last season. Acta acknowledged that parting with so much talent was painful, but worth it to acquire a pitcher of Jimenez's stature. After two appearances, the bold move is already paying off.
''Every team has a guy like that,'' Acta said. ''When you have a guy like that, you feel like you can win every time out.''
Jimenez, who got a no-decision at Texas last week, had the Tigers tamed from the outset.
He struck out leadoff hitter Andy Dirks and then Brennan Boesch before running Magglio Ordonez's bat through his personal wood chipper, shattering his bat on a routine groundout. Jimenez mowed down Motown's team in the second, and when he took the mound in the third, he had a four-run cushion.
''He's a young guy with a real good arm,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ''He had pretty good command. He's a talent. He was pretty impressive. He was throwing 91, 92, 93 (mph) all night and then when he needed it, he had 94 and 95, too.''
That was when Tigers cleanup hitter Miguel Cabrera came up.
''He's their best hitter,'' Jimenez said. ''you have to throw everything you have.''
Kipnis' sixth homer in just 58 career at-bats — a towering shot that sailed just inside the right-field foul pole — gave the Indians, who won the series opener in 14 innings, a 4-0 lead in the second.
Lonnie Chisenhall doubled with one out and scored when Ezequiel Carrera, batting leadoff in place of the injured Michael Brantley, doubled. Kipnis, called up July 21 from Triple-A Columbus, then unloaded on Porcello, who appeared on the verge of an early trip to the showers.
But the Tigers, limited to two hits through three innings, began to figure out Jimenez.
They rallied with two outs to score three runs in the fourth, getting an RBI triple off the wall in left-center from Ryan Raburn and a two-run double into the gap in right-center by Wilson Betemit to close within 4-3.
However, the Indians responded with four runs, and Kipnis was once again stirring things up.
Lou Marson snapped an 0-for-19 slump with a leadoff double, and one out later, Kipnis hit an RBI single. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a single to center and Kipnis never hesitated as he rounded second, forcing center fielder Dirks to rush a wild throw to third that wound up in the camera bay next to Cleveland's dugout.
One out later, Carlos Santana doubled and Tigers manager Jim Leyland pulled Porcello.
Notes: Brantley has a sore right wrist that has been bothering him for more than a week. He visited a hand specialist, who feels a few days of rest could help the leadoff hitter. The Indians don't think he'll have to go on the DL. ... The Indians tied a season-high with seven doubles. ... The Tigers will turn to Verlander (16-5) in Thursday's series finale against RHP Fausto Carmona (5-11) Verlander is having a Cy Young-caliber season, but is just 11-11 with a 4.82 ERA in his career against Cleveland. Most of that success has been in Detroit. At Progressive Field, Verlander is only 4-8 with a 6.31 ERA in 13 starts. .... Tigers OF Brennan Boesch left in the third with a sprained thumb. Boesch will have an MRI on Thursday.