CHICAGO: It’s not a crisis yet, but the way Ubaldo Jimenez persists in underachieving, the Indians might be on their way to a calamity.
Jimenez was out of Tuesday night’s 7-2 loss to the White Sox before completing the fifth inning.
Not all of the chaos around him was his fault, but he contributed more than his share of incompetence to the debacle, allowing seven runs (four earned), eight hits and six walks in 4⅔ innings. He also gave up home runs to Gordon Beckham and A.J. Pierzynski, who has hit three of his five against the Tribe.
Jimenez’s earned-run average rose to 5.02, and he is averaging 6.3 walks per nine innings plus a home run allowed every 5⅔ innings. His hit total of 30 in 28⅔ innings would be no more problematic than Derek Lowe’s 35 hits in 31⅔ innings, but when Jimenez’s hits and walks are combined, he is averaging 16 base runners per nine innings.
The statistics are revealing enough, but watching Jimenez throw 105 pitches in less than five innings is excruciating. To put that in perspective, if Jimenez had pitched a complete game, it would have taken him 203 pitches, and his astronomical pitch count has been a problem all season and earlier.
Keep in mind that when the Tribe acquired him last summer from the Colorado Rockies for their best two pitching prospects — Drew Pomeranz and Alex White — the club’s deep thinkers thought they were getting a potential No. 1 starter (think former Indians CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee). So far, Jimenez hasn’t been close.
However, there were some mitigating circumstances beyond his control Tuesday night. It might rank as the Tribe’s worst performance in the field for the decade.
The score was tied 1-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning, but Jimenez gave up a leadoff homer to Beckham. Then the fun started. The Sox shoot off fireworks after every home run, and in their wake, the smoke obscures virtually the entire field. That might be why Jason Donald failed to see Alejandro De Aza’s routine pop fly to third that fell for a double.
Alexei Ramirez followed with a grounder to sure-handed shortstop Asdurbal Cabrera, who fumbled it for an error. Two unfortunate plays in a row didn’t give Jimenez license to walk the next two batters, but he did, forcing in a run.
Pierzynski then hit a pop-up to Cabrera, who dropped the ball as he climbed the mound to catch it. That play cost the Tribe nothing, because it was ruled an infield fly and just another out. Alex Rios bounced into a force play to score another run, and Dayan Viciedo beat out an infield hit to drive in the fourth run of the inning.
That was more than the Sox needed, because the Indians could do nothing against Chris Sale, who has manhandled them twice this season. Sale delivered six strong innings, allowing one run, three hits and one walk. In two starts against Cleveland, he is 2-0, having given up just two runs and six hits in 12⅔ innings.
However, the Tribe’s homerless streak finally ended after 11 games in the seventh inning, when Shelley Duncan drove a ball over the wall in left for his third homer of the season.
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.