Morning Rundown: Oh Just Ubaldo, Taking Care of Business, No Biggie
I sat here ranting and raving how I'd given up. I was waving the white flag and tapping out. I had seen enough of Ubaldo, I wanted nothing more to do with him. Regardless of what ended up happening, I had it. It was time to move on.
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I'm not ready to take it back, because the minute I do that, whatever Ubaldo did on Monday to suppress his inner-Ewwbaldo will seep its way out.
What was last night? I have no clue, but it was certainly a welcomed site two and a half years in the making.
INDIANS - 9 | ROYALS - 0
W: Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2)
L: Wade Davis (2-2)
It quite frankly was the best start that Ubaldo Jimenez has ever made for the Cleveland Indians. He looked like a totally different pitcher, one capable of giving his team seven solid innings of no-run ball in which he moved the ball around effectively, pitched aggressively for strikes, and had a command of all his pitches.
He worked efficiently, both in actually getting the ball in pitching and with his pitch count, never really building the total up in one frame at any point. He was everything you need a pitcher to be. Did he have to bear down and strike out everyone? No and he was just as effective. Perhaps that is a lesson he can learn going forward.
Just one hit through seven innings, it wasn't until he was trotted out for the eighth that the Royals really started to get to him with a single and a double. But prior to that, just a Billy Butler infield single and two walks. Really? That's it? Tito said it best, there was so much to like.
"He had life on his fastball. He had all of his offspeed pitches working," Francona said. "Hitters, they had to respect everything he threw. You saw some rollover ground balls to first, some awkward swings, late on the fastball. There was just so much to like tonight."
I was kind of stunned. I didn't want to say anything at all out of fear that I would jinx whatever it was going on. Even though the no-hitter was gone in the fourth, I feared touching or even glancing at the screen when he was pitching out of fear that it would disturb the earth and something bad would happen.
But it never did and while he did start to run out of gas in the eighth when Francona brought him back out, Nick Hagadone did a masterful job in dancing his way out and letting Ubaldo get through this one with no runs given up and just a few blemishes in the other columns.
Here's how effective Ubadlo was. He ran the count to 0-2 right off the bat six times out of the 25 batters he faced. Three more times the count went full, which means to 16 other batters, he was still in good counts, and counts with low amounts of pitches. He didn't go to a full-count until the fifth and his one walk of Cain early on? It was on four pitches.
Jimenez was as solid as solid can be early on through the first five innings of this one. He got a few good defensive plays, and was a Cabrera specialty away from keeping his no-hitter, but largely was effective because he wanted to be. Ubaldo said that the extra couple of days he got because of the rain-out and doubleheader helped him.
"That felt really good out there," said Jimenez. "Those extra couple days really helped my arm. I was able to throw everything for a strike."
For future reference, he won't get extra days off, so he better find a way to make it so he can still perform with the customary number of days in-between starts. It is kind of mystifying that he did so well after a longer layoff though, considering his main problem has been repetition of mechanics and staying in-tune. How did he manage to do that with a few extra days?
Point blank, he's an enigma.
I was most impressed with how quickly he worked. The game last just over two and a half hours, which is a credit to Jimenez and the pace he kept because lord knows when the Indians were batting, it was taking some time because of all the runs they scored.
So a big tip of the cap to Ubaldo and whatever part Mickey Callaway is playing in what just happened. Hopefully it continues to stick and Jimenez can make us eat words.
"You're always looking to be encouraged," manager Terry Francona said. "I think we flew past encouraged and got excited."
I'm not ready to jump on quite yet though. He needs to show that consistency to remain slightly trustful. I would caution to jump on the excited train. It is encouraging and it was fun to watch and it makes us hopeful. Looking at Alcides Escobar say "Wow, incredible" in regards to Ubaldo is great. It wasn't some fluke, he had the other team befuddled. He didn't simply waltz his way through those seven innings, he was dominant.
But we can't get excited about it yet. It was exciting to watch, but don't go getting excited that he's doing this every time out, not until he does it five times in a row. But even then that would be risky.
It was nice and hopefully this story is not over, but I'm skeptical to say the least.
I guess the afterthought is the offense, even though they scored nine runs and banged out 14 hits. Michael Brantley (who doubled twice), Asdrubal Cabrera, Mark Reynolds, and Ryan Raburn all had multi-hit games, with Cabrera collecting his third in two nights.
But it was Raburn's blast in the sixth inning that opened things up big time and topped off that big frame. He added a solo shot later to up his RBI total from 1 to 5. I was dogging him earlier thinking that the way he was swinging the bat was enough reason to consider making some sort of move down the road if that continued and Yan Gomes finds a way to continue to hit. Put that on hold I guess.
Raburn's homer was his first this year and first since mid-May of last season.
Remember all ya'll who wanted to do something or other to Jason Kipnis? Shows you that ya need to be patient with a young hitter in the first month. He deserves as much, especially after the homer and walk on Monday.
Carlos Santana with another two-out RBI hit in this one. He just continues to do great things in the clutch and leads the American League in a lot of impressive categories.
Kudos to Nick Hagadone for his inning of work, coming in with two on and nobody out. He not only gets out of it without damage, he strikes out a pair.
Key at-bat offensively in that sixth inning was Mark Reynolds getting the single with two outs to keep that rally going. Without his hit, Santana doesn't come up and Raburn can't hit the homer. Sure the Indians had gone up 3-0 at that point before it, but they had been letting Wade Davis off the hook all night.
More Ubaldo Notes...
This was the first time since last September since Ubaldo went seven innings or more. It was the first time since June 10th of last year since he went seven innings and giving up one run or less. And it was the first time since May 6th that he went at least seven innings and didn't give up a run.
It was also the most strikes he has thrown in seven innings since August 10th of 2011 when he faced Detroit and went eight innings and threw 117 pitches, 74 of them for strikes. His strike percentage last night was 67%, which is exactly what you are looking for.
And suddenly, Asdrubal Cabrera is heating up. You know we knew this was coming sooner or later. Cabrera always hits a streak and he is in the midst of it right now.
"He really knows how to play the game," Francona said. "By that, I mean he sees the field really well. Whether it's moving up on a ball or going first to third. Those types of players, it's like they've got [more than two] eyes. It's a big compliment. He's got a good baseball clock."
And now look. Between him and Santana, they're starting to carry the offense. Mark Reynolds is a nice piece and the Indians were scoring when he was carrying things, but with those two guys on? Look how potent that group is. Imagine how effective they will start to look when Bourn returns and is integrated into this situation.
Speaking of, on his own accord, Michael Bourn will be headed out on a rehab assignment shortly.
"It's about time to discuss it," Bourn said. "I'm tired of sitting down. Hopefully, I can try to get back quick, but at the same time be smart about it. I don't want to go in there and it's not ready and I have a setback. So far, I haven't had any setbacks.'
So the Indians will probably send him out on one so he can get his footing back and when he returns to the club, he's ready to go full-out. He probably also wants to knock off any rust stepping into the box since he hasn't really been able to do that at all with the finger injury.
In other finger news, Chris Perez had X-rays on his thumb following that ball that he tried to catch with his pitching hand on Sunday. Perez said he'll be good to go despite some bruising. He finished the inning, a meaningless one at that, so not sure there is much of an issue.
And of course, as predicted, Trevor Bauer was a healthy scratch in yesterday's Columbus game against Pawtucket. He'll start on Wednesday for the Indians and could be in line for more than one start depending on the Myers situation.