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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Ubaldo Jimenez”

Tribe wants Ubaldo to focus on the here and now

The Cleveland Indians, desperate for any kind of starting pitching, are doing what they can to try and boost Ubaldo Jimenez’s confidence as another disappointing season winds its way down.

Rather than focus on the big picture – one that reveals Jimenez as a 1-9 pitcher with an ERA of 7.13 since the All-Star break – the team is working on a more micro level, trying to get the right-hander to focus on the fact that he has struck out an average of 9.31 batters per nine innings since Aug. 9. He has also improved his strikeout-to-walk rate, which is 3.08 since Aug. 9, quite an improvement over the 1.29 mark he had prior to that date.

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It’s time to accept Ubaldo for what he is, Tribe fans

Another day, another disappointing outing for Cleveland Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez.

At least that is the feeling among many Tribe fans after watching Jimenez give up five runs, seven hits and five walks in just 5.2 innings of work in Thursday’s loss to Tampa Bay.

But the reality is, this is the new normal for Jimenez, and the sooner Tribe fans accept it the better off they will be.

For every five-game stretch, like the one in June where he posted a 2.78 ERA in 32.1 innings of work (covering five starts), we are going to get a July stretch, where Jimenez has worked just 16 innings in four starts, posting a 7.31 ERA for the month. Before Thursday’s game against the Rays, Jimenez faced Toronto, lasting just 2.1 innings and giving up eight earned runs.

“I thought Ubaldo battled well for us,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He gave us five innings for us to do something, to score runs, and we couldn’t do it. And in that (sixth)  inning, it’s too bad, because he couldn’t come out of there with a very good outing.”

That’s a bit of an understatement.

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Tribe starters find themselves in St. Louis

What a weekend for the Cleveland Indians starting rotation.

In helping the Indians take two-out-of-three against the Cardinals, the Tribe moved to a half-game behind the White Sox and, more importantly, may have rediscovered how to pitch.

Josh Tomlin, Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez all went seven innings in their starts, with Tomlin having the “worst” performance of the trio as he gave up two runs; Masterson and Jimenez each limited St. Louis to one run in their starts. The trio also only walked one batter during the series.

When you consider that the Cardinals are the highest-scoring team in the National League, and the second highest in all of baseball, that’s a solid weekend of work.

Sunday’s game was the first time Jimenez did not walk a batter all season and, in his last two starts, he has walked just one batter. That’s pretty impressive for a pitcher that has walked 43 on the season (third highest in the American League) and hit this road trip with an ERA of 9.00 in road starts.

“Jimenez was terrific,’’ manager Manny Acta told The Beacon Journal. “He was dominating. He threw 16-of-25 first-pitch strikes, and having no walks made a huge difference. He had a good split and slider. I’m happy to see him go back to back.’’

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The Song Remains the Same for Tribe

Things seemed oddly familiar on Saturday when the Cleveland Indians took on Toronto.

Strong solid pitching? Check.

Ubaldo Jimenez carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and left the game after pitching seven innings of one-hit, two-run ball.

“One of the main keys was that I was throwing my breaking pitches for strikes,” Jimenez told The Beacon Journal. “I think as I went along, that is what worked. I was able to throw every one of my breaking pitches for strikes. Carlos Santana called a great game. Whatever he put down, I went with that.”

We never doubted Jimenez for a moment.

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Is There a Problem, Ubaldo?

Cleveland, we may have a problem.

Lost in all the hoo-ha about Tribe pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez hitting Colorado piss-ant Troy Tulowitzki with a pitch on Sunday is the fact that Jimenez doesn’t look any better than he did last season, when he went 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA with the Indians after being acquired in a trade with the Rockies for top pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz, Alex White and Joe Gardner.

For the rest, head over to The Cleveland Fan.

Indians feeling the Motown blues

Well, that was a waste of a weekend.

The Cleveland Indians limp home after being swept by the first-place Detroit Tigers, and how sit 4.5 games behind in the AL Central.

It’s nice that the Tribe battled back on Sunday after falling into a 7-0 thanks to “ace” Ubaldo Jimenez (more on that in a bit), especially since they couldn’t do that Saturday night after No. 5 starter David Huff finally pitched like a No. 5 starter in putting the Indians into a 5-0 hole in just 2.1 innings of work.

But feistyness alone isn’t going to win the division; and going 2-4 on road trips through the division doesn’t help either.

Travis Hafner, who left Sunday’s game with an injury, killed the Tribe on the swing through Chicago and Detroit. Hafner hit .160 (4-for-25) from the No. 4 spot with 11 strikeouts.

Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t help much either in the No. 3 hole, hitting .208 (5-for-24) on the trip.

Hafner and Cabrera picked a bad week to hit a slump, as Shin Soo-Choo and Carlos Santana, who hit No. 2 and No. 5 most of the trip, had a solid swing through Chicago and Detroit. Choo hit .393 on the trip while Santana was at a .321 clip.

None of it really matter, though, as the starting pitching let the Tribe down over the weekend.

Josh Tomlin, Huff and Jimenez combined to go 0-3 with an ERA of 12.41 in the three games against Detroit.

As bad as Huff was Saturday night, Jimenez was even worse on Sunday, primarily because he was sold to the fan base as being an ace when the Indians acquired him at the trading deadline.

In four starts for the Tribe so far, Jimenez is 1-1 with two no decisions. He’s worked just 21 innings, has an ERA of 7.29 and a WHIP of 1.47.

“The difference between this year and last year is my command,” Jimenez said after the game. “Last year I was ahead of almost every hitter. This year I’ve been pitching from behind.”

We tuned into the game in the midst of the Tigers’ seven-run third inning to hear announcer Tom Hamilton talking about how, before the game, Indians manager Manny Acta was stressing how Jimenez needs to control his pitches better.

We are beyond tired of hearing that about Jimenez. You’re not an ace if you can’t control your pitches; it’s the control that makes you an ace. Or something like that, we’re still upset about the weekend and are starting to ramble.

In any event, so far the evidence seems pretty strong that the Tribe severely overpaid in this deal.

Luckily the Indians still reside in the AL Central, so no matter how bad it seems they are never out of it. The Tribe now has an 11-game homestead against Seattle, Kansas City and Oakland, who are collectively 57 games under .500.

The Tigers, meanwhile, hit the road for seven games (Tampa and Minnesota) before coming home for four games against Kansas City. Those three are collectively 27 games under .500.

So the opportunity is there over the next week and a half for the Indians to make up for this weekend.

The question, as always, is are they up to the challenge?

***

Luckily the weekend wasn’t a total loss as Liverpool finally beat Arsenal at the Emirates, the first time that has happened in 11 years.

Luis Suárez and Raul Meireles found the back of the net after coming on in the second half to give Liverpool a 2-0 win in a game that wasn’t pretty.

“We just about deserved to win,” Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said. “We have a stronger squad than last season and, when you have two substitutes of that quality to bring on, they deserve the chance to make a difference. It wasn’t easy, but at least our season is up and running now. It was a better performance than last week and we didn’t concede a goal. The new players have had a week to settle in and we are beginning to see what they are capable of.”

While it’s nice that Liverpool finally walked out of the Emirates with three points, they need to come up with an offense that includes more than just lobbing the ball into Andy Carroll and hoping that Carroll will head the ball in. Being predictable ain’t gonna get it done.

For now, we’ll just be happy to take the three points and get out of town.

(Photo by The Detroit Free Press)

On the fence about Ubaldo

A day later and we’re still trying to sort out our feelings about the Indians trading for Ubaldo Jimenez.

We were hoping the team would try to do something before Sunday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but we weren’t expecting this.

When your offense is batting .191 in its last 10 games … and the team has gone 6-10 since the All-Star break … and just finished the month of July 11-15 … and has only scored more than 3 runs three times in the last 13 games … and just lost 2-of-3 to the last place Royals … and finished a homestand with a 2-6 record

Well, let’s just say, adding pitching wasn’t the first thing that popped into our minds.

We understand that you have to give up prospects to acquire major league talent, but we do have to wonder if the Tribe overpaid by giving up both Drew Pomeranz and Alex White – the top two pitching prospects in the organization.

On the other hand, the financial aspect of the trade can’t be overlooked. This isn’t a two-month rental as Jimenez is under contract for $4.2 million in 2012 and a club option for $5.75 ($1 million guaranteed) in 2013. That kind of reasonably priced player simply can’t be underestimated for a small-market team like the Indians.

The question becomes, then, is Jimenez worth the price the Indians paid?

As Jayson Stark pointed out on ESPN:

(The Indians) know the guy they traded for isn’t the same Ubaldo who hit the 2010 All-Star break at 15-1 with an ERA barely above 2. Since then, this fellow has won just 10 of his past 36 starts, his velocity his down, and his ERA has more than doubled.

However, Stark goes on to say:

Nevertheless, in Jimenez’s 10 starts between June 1, which was about the time he finally began to get his strength back after some early-season issues, and the third week of July, at about the time the trade rumors began to swirl, the Great Ubaldo had a 2.58 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings. Want to put those numbers in better perspective?

The only starters in the big leagues with a better ERA and a better strikeout rate over that period were Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia and Gio Gonzalez.

Well the sounds pretty good. And Jimenez did that while pitching his home games at Coors Field, not exactly a pitcher’s park.

One nagging question we can’t shake is, if Jimenez is so good with such a team-friendly contract, why did the Rockies trade him?

Also, according to this article in The Denver Post, the team originally floated out the idea of trading Jimenez as a way to motivate him. Does that sound like the kind of pitcher who is going to hold up during a pennant race?

But what’s done is done; the trade has gone through and Jimenez is an Indian. As long as his uniform says Cleveland on it we’re behind him.

Even if we’re still not totally sold on the trade.

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