ARLINGTON, Texas: Does anyone remember when the Indians were mired in an eight-game losing streak? Granted, that was back in the day, way back, Monday to be exact, so why would it be fresh in the mind of a Northeast Ohio baseball fan today?
What’s new and exciting with the Tribe? It’s called winning, including Wednesday night’s 5-2 triumph over the Texas Rangers, that makes two victories in a row for the Warrior Wahoos.
Taking two of three at the Ballpark in Arlington is nothing to sneeze at, unless you’re allergic to 93-degree temperatures. In the four seasons preceding 2013, the Indians had won only 3-of-15 at the Rangers’ digs.
Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4, 4.79 ERA) only lasted five innings plus two batters into the sixth, mostly because his pitch count climbed to 111. Jimenez only gave up four hits, but he walked four. He also was forced to throw extra pitches after outfielders Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs played I got it, you take it on a ball hit by Lance Berkman with two outs in the third.
Had either outfielder caught the ball, the inning would have been over. Instead, Berkman reached on an undeserved single, and Jimenez walked the next batter before retiring the side.
Under the circumstances, the mistake was no big deal, since the Rangers didn’t score as a result of the blunder.
The Rangers scored their run off Jimenez in the third, when Leonys Martin led off with a home run. Jurickson Profar followed with a single, but he was erased on a double play, just before Berkman came to the plate.
Fans love to chart the progress or the regression of Jimenez, so here is his latest report card. In his past nine starts, Jimenez has posted a 5-2 record and 3.02 ERA since April 29. In that span he has averaged 5⅔ innings per outing.
Tribe batsmen were facing the third rookie starter on the trip, a leading indicator that they would struggle. Instead, they scored all of their runs off Nick Tepesch, who lasted five innings, giving up eight hits and one walk.
Tepesch didn’t shrivel up and die on the vine in fear, but he was vulnerable enough to get in trouble almost every inning.
The Indians blew a scoring chance in the first, when Michael Bourn took off from second and was thrown out at the plate on Michael Brantley’s single, but with two outs in the second, Tepesch hit Jason Giambi and paid for it when Mike Aviles homered.
He gave up another run in the third on Bourn’s infield single, Jason Kipnis’ single and an RBI hit by Brantley.
The Tribe struck again in the fifth, when Kipnis led off with his ninth home run of the season, a one-out walk to Brantley and Carlos Santana’s RBI double.
Indians relievers also did their job. When Jimenez gave up a walk and a single to start the sixth, Rich Hill was summoned to retire lefty A.J. Pierzynski.
Bryan Shaw finished the inning and threw a double-play ball in the seventh for the first two outs. But when he gave up single to Profar, Nick Hagadone was called in to get the last out of the seventh.
Joe Smith walked a batter but struck out the side in the eighth, and Vinnie Pestano finished off the win in the ninth, but not without working up a sweat. Jeff Baker led off the inning by grounding out, but the at-bat lasted 15 pitches. Moreover a tough error on Mike Aviles at short and a double by Profar gave the Rangers another run.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. 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.