Jimenez’s pitch count still a concern for Tribe

Slowly, very slowly, Ubaldo Jimenez seems to be figuring some things out. The Indians pitcher, of whom much is expected this season, picked up the win Friday night in the Indians’ 4-3 victory over the Oakland A’s.

It was hardly a dominating performance, but it was good enough, against one of the least formidable lineups in the American League. Jimenez pitched six innings and gave up two runs on six hits.

The problem in his start Friday, and in most of his starts since joining the Indians following a midseason trade last year, was Jimenez’s pitch count. Friday night he needed 107 pitches to get through six innings. He walked five and has now allowed 11 walks in 18 innings in three starts.

Indians officials have tried to get Jimenez to use his fastball more to get ahead of hitters, but Jimenez fell behind hitters consistently in the early innings Friday. He did settle down in his last couple of innings, and the bullpen was able to preserve the win.

Through his first three starts this season, Jimenez’s statistics are a mixed bag. He is 2-0 with a 4.00 ERA. However, he is averaging just six innings per start. The Indians are expecting a little more than that from Jimenez, who is looked upon as a No.1-caliber starter.

For Jimenez to reach the expectations held for him, he needs to pitch seven or eight innings in most of his starts. But in his first three starts this year, he is averaging 104 pitches per start, which makes it difficult for him to pitch more than five or six innings. The good news for the Indians, however, is that even with those struggles, Jimenez’s record is 2-0.

Gomez to begin suspension after next start

–RHP Jeanmar Gomez will start Saturday night at Oakland. Following the game, Gomez will drop his appeal and start serving his five-game suspension. Gomez was suspended for five games for intentionally hitting Kansas City 3B Mike Moustaskas on April 14.

–3B Jack Hannahan continues to be the Indians’ best clutch hitter. Hannahan’s two-out, two-run double in the fourth inning Friday night was one of the big hits in their 4-3 win over the A’s. For the season overall, Hannahan, with runners in scoring position, is hitting .600 (6-10) with a home run and 11 RBI. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Hannahan is 5-for-6 with six RBI. “He’s a very confident hitter right now,” said manager Manny Acta.

–RHP Ubaldo Jimenez’s ongoing battle to keep his pitch count down hampered him again Friday, but not enough to prevent him from picking up the win in the Indians’ 4-3 victory over Oakland. Jimenez, having thrown 107 pitches, was removed after the sixth inning. Jimenez walked five batters, bringing his season total to 11 walks in 18 innings, but he only gave up two runs in the six innings to get the win, improving his record to 2-0. “The last two innings he got into a better groove,” said manager Manny Acta.

–LHP Tony Sipp, a dependable member of the bullpen the last two seasons, has gotten off to a terrible start. On Friday night, Sipp relieved RHP Ubaldo Jimenez to start the seventh inning, with the Indians leading 4-2. Sipp gave up a triple and a walk to the first two batters he faced. In 1/3 of an inning, he gave up a run on one hit and one walk, raising his ERA to 14.73. The Indians are currently carrying 13 pitchers, and will likely send one to Class AAA Columbus when SS Asdrubal Cabrera comes off the Bereavement List and rejoins the Indians on Tuesday. Sipp would seem to be a candidate for that demotion.

–DH Travis Hafner drew three walks and the Indians as a team drew nine walks in their 4-3 win at Oakland Friday night. The nine walks increases the Indians’ American League-leading total to 66 in just 12 games.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 — Walks drawn by the Indians Friday night, raising their American League-leading total to 66.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We continue to have a lot of good at-bats, and when you have that much traffic on the bases, you’re going to score some runs.” — Manager Manny Acta, after the Indians, who lead the league in drawing walks, walked nine times in a 4-3 win over Oakland.

Roster Report

MEDICAL WATCH:

–LHP David Huff (right hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Akron on April 20.

–OF Grady Sizemore (back surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He was cleared to begin baseball activities in late April, and he might be able to return as soon as he is eligible.

–RHP Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery in September 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He might miss the entire season.