CLEVELAND: What is this world coming to? Not only did the Indians sweep the Rangers for the first time in five years Sunday, but also Ubaldo Jimenez pitched eight scoreless innings.
The Tribe took it to the visitors again, 6-0 at Progressive Field, as the starting pitching continued to sparkle and the spate of errors faded into the past. After committing 11 errors in seven games, the formerly Wobbly Wahoos made none in the next two.
Biggest news of the day? Jimenez threw 110 pitches, and the scoreboard wasn’t flashing “5th inning.’’
“Ubaldo has kept us in about every game,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “But when he goes over 100 pitches [in the fifth or sixth], it’s kind of hard to leave him in the game, because that means the hitters have seen everything he has.’’
But that didn’t happen Sunday. After putting two runners on base in the first inning — with a double and a walk — Jimenez settled down and retired 10 batters in a row.
Those waiting for the other shoe to fall (or a bunch or Rangers to reach base) became nervous in the fifth, when the first two batters reached, but Jimenez put disaster on hold again, retiring the side without a ball being hit to the outfield.
The only other unsettling Rangers at-bat occurred in the eighth, when Ian Kinsler whacked a drive toward right-center. Ryan Raburn raced over from right field, leaped at the fence and caught the ball, then ran into the wall with his face.
“Bourn didn’t see it,’’ Francona said. “It was hard for me to see from the dugout. I couldn’t tell if it was going out or not.’’
It wasn’t, but Raburn saved an extra-base hit with nobody out.
Jimenez (8-5, 4.17 ERA) pitched eight innings only one other time this season, in a 5-0 win over the Rays on June 1. On Sunday, he allowed only two hits and three walks, striking out six.
“I thought he threw his fastball inside more aggressively,’’ Francona said. “He really used his fastball effectively.’’
Jimenez confirmed that depending mostly on his fastball was a key to his success.
“I think it was using the fastball,’’ he said. “I was aggressive, and I was able to stay aggressive. My whole approach was to get ahead and stay ahead.’’
In the past four games, Tribe starters are 3-0 with a 0.91 ERA.
Even though Jimenez had a shutout in hand, Francona did not let him go out for the ninth.
“No, we have no days off, so every pitcher has to stay on his five days,’’ the manager said. “This worked out well for Vinnie [Pestano].’’
Pestano’s setup job has been taken away from him, at least temporarily, and Francona tries to find the right spots to use him. He worked the ninth and gave up a leadoff walk but threw a double-play pitch, then struck out the last batter of the game.
“I pitched a good game for eight innings,’’ Jimenez said. “So I was good with it. Now, I’ll just get ready for the next one. In a perfect world, I want to stay like this for the next game.’’
The final score was deceiving in that Jimenez did not have a large cushion to rely on early in the game. The Indians didn’t score until the fifth inning, when Jason Kipnis drove in Michael Bourn from third with a single.
It was only one run, but that was enough to induce Rangers manager Ron Washington to remove starter Alexi Ogando (4-3, 3.05 ERA) from the game after 4⅔ innings.
“We made Ogando work,’’ Francona said. “We didn’t have much to show for it, but his pitch count  got up there. Sometimes that’s how you beat good pitchers.’’
Once Ogando was back in the dugout, Indians batsmen began trashing the Rangers’ bullpen. In the three-run sixth, Yan Gomes drove in the first run with a single, and Bourn doubled home two more.
“Bourn is right in the middle of what we’re doing when things are good,’’ Francona said. “He’s been such a catalyst for us.’’ In the past four games, Bourn is 5-for-16 with two home runs, a double and 10 RBI.
Sweeping the Rangers is a rare event for the Indians. The last time it happened was Aug. 22-24, 2008, in a three-game series. By comparison, the Rangers have swept the Tribe four times (including a four-game set) in the past five years.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.