It has been nearly a year since Ubaldo Jimenez won two games in a row.
It’s been just as long since he’s looked this poised on the mound and for a starting pitcher struggling to find his way back, a little confidence goes a long way.
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“Yea, it definitely does,” Jimenez said. “As a pitcher you just want to get comfortable out there and with a little bit of confidence you should be able to do that every five days.”
Known for being consistently inconsistent, Jimenez produced his third straight quality start in Monday’s 7-3 win over the Oakland A’s.
“I thought he was pitching well the whole time,” manager Terry Francona said. “I don’t think there was ever any point where he was out of sync.”
Jimenez gave up four hits, two earned runs, three walks and matched a season high of eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings of work.
While he didn’t have the dominant outing that we saw in his last start against Kansas City, he was very effective and didn’t get rattled by his mistakes.
“Tonight he worked ahead, and they’re a very patient team,” Francona said. “He made them respect his fastball enough and his off-speed stuff was tremendous.”
Not only did Jimenez even up his record at 2-2, but he also notched his 1,000th strikeout of his career.
Has Jimenez finally turned the corner?
It’s still early in the season, but not too early to see that his hard work is starting to pay off and the encouragement he’s getting from his teammates is helping, too.
“I’m really happy for him,” shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera said. “He had trouble last year, and it started a little bit this year too. I know he has really good stuff. If he does what he does the last couple games, I think he’ll be all right.”
Unlike last year, Jimenez has been able to “stop the bleeding” and avoid the downward spiral that we saw him fall into after a couple of rough outings in 2012.
“Coming into the season and having those 2 bad games, as a human being it starts getting a little bit into your head,” Jimenez said. “But I’ve stayed focus and this year, I’ve been able to get out of that.”
Jimenez still has a lot to prove, especially to a fanbase that’s been utterly disappointed in what he’s brought to the Indians thus far.
If his last two starts are any indication of what’s to come of Ubaldo’s newfound confidence, 2013 could make for a very interesting Indians summer.