CLEVELAND: With no more than five starts left before the schedule runs its course, Ubaldo Jimenez can’t really do much to turn around what essentially has been a lost season for him.
The Indians have him for at least one more year, because his contact does not expire until after the 2013 season. If he is to make a killing on his next contract, he will have to put up much better numbers than his current 9-15 and 5.58 ERA. And maybe he will.
He pitched well Wednesday night against the Detroit Tigers, but the fans and manager Manny Acta have learned that one good start doesn’t mean another will follow.
Essentially, Jimenez threw one self-destructive pitch in 7⅓ innings, a hanging slider that Miguel Cabrera hit into the seats at Comerica Park for a two-run homer in the first inning.
Asked what Jimenez could have done to avoid the home run, Acta said, “Maybe not pitch to Cabrera. That [facing him] doesn’t help anybody.”
Jimenez had a little different take, saying, “To tell the truth, the first guy, that little guy [Austin Jackson] got a bloop single, then I threw a pitch away to Cabrera and he hit it anyway. He went to the opposite field to hit it out. He’s a great hitter.”
Acta continues to stress that the most important element in Jimenez’s development is commanding the strike zone.
“He has to throw strikes, especially strike one,” Acta said. “If he does that, he can put his whole repertoire on those hitters. We all know he has a big arsenal, but he has to throw strike one [on the first pitch] to make it effective.”
Jimenez looks at the rest of the season the same way as when it began.
“I just want to get ready for my next game and then for my next season,” he said. “That’s all that’s on my mind.”
Next year will be decisive for Jimenez, who can be a free agent after the 2013 season, which should give him an additional incentive to turn around his career.
For the Tribe, it could a lose-lose situation. If Jimenez pitches to his potential, the Indians probably won’t be able to afford him. If he doesn’t, they probably won’t want him.
When umpire Jim Joyce called Jason Donald out on a close play at first Wednesday night, it brought back memories of a similar play that Joyce missed two years ago, when the umpire called Donald safe with two out in the ninth inning to cost the Tigers’ Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
Replays were definitive in showing that Joyce missed the call, starting a firestorm of criticism. Replays also showed that Joyce missed the call Wednesday night, though the consequences were hardly as dire.
After Donald crossed the bag, he looked at Joyce and kidded, “So was that a makeup call?”
Joyce answered, “You’re going to give me a heart attack with all these close calls.”
“He’s a great umpire,” Donald said.
In case you missed it
The Tribe hierarchy did not respond to Chris Perez’s criticism of owners Larry and Paul Dolan plus General Manager Chris Antonetti until 11:10 Wednesday night.
In a prepared statement, Antonetti said: “While we work to understand various perspectives, we strongly disagree with Chris’s comments. Nonetheless, we are not satisfied with our recent results and our entire organization remains committed to fielding winning teams, and that is the standard by which we will continue to operate.”
Perez’s opinions were contained in a story by FOXSports.com.