DETROIT: Believe it or not, by giving up six runs in 5⅓ innings Saturday night, Ubaldo Jimenez turned in one of the more proficient starts on the Indians’ nine-game trip, which mercifully concludes today.
And what must Chris Seddon — who has made only four major-league starts and none since 2007 — be thinking? He has been summoned from Triple-A Columbus to break the Tribe’s horrible eight-game losing streak by vanquishing the Detroit Tigers. Jeremy Accardo was designated for assignment to make room for Seddon on the roster.
But back to Jimenez, who is 1-6 in his past eight starts with a 6.55 ERA since June 27. Actually, considering what has transpired among the team’s starting pitchers the past eight days, that doesn’t sound bad at all. And keep in mind the Woeful Wahoos lost Saturday night’s game to the Tigers by only 6-1.
“It was another game where we had to play catch-up,” manager Manny Acta said. “That’s too bad, because Ubaldo was one pitch away from getting a quality start.”
Jimenez’s performance lowered the club’s earned-run average on the trip from 12.40 to 12.08. Now that’s progress.
“We just have to keep on going,” Acta said. “This is something I’ve never seen before, this kind of streak of non-quality starts. Even in 2007, when I was starting out at Washington and we practically had to conduct tryouts for the rotation, I never saw something like this.”
Jimenez had two problems: He issued four walks, two of which turned into runs. Jimenez also allowed seven hits, four of which went for extra bases. His two deficiencies went hand in hand.
In the second inning, Jimenez (8-11, 5.29 ERA) walked the leadoff batter, Prince Fielder, and Brennan Boesch followed by delivering a triple to deep right for the Tigers’ first run. Boesch scored on Delmon Young’s sacrifice fly.
In the fourth inning, which was Jimenez’s undoing, he gave up a leadoff single to Fielder, who took second on a wild pitch. But Jimenez retired the next two batters only to walk Alex Avila.
As Acta said, one pitch from a quality start, former Tribe infielder Jhonny Peralta assaulted Jimenez with a triple to score two runs. Peralta then scored on Omar Infante’s infield single.
Another leadoff walk to Young in the sixth led indirectly to the end of Jimenez’s work day. When Jimenez gave up a double to Peralta that put runners on second and third, the call went to the bullpen for Esmil Rogers. He did his job, but in the process of finishing the inning, he gave up a sacrifice fly to Infante to tack on another run charged to Jimenez.
“I’ll tell you the truth,” Jimenez said, “I felt really good today. But a couple of pitches went for two triples and a double. On the [first] triple, I wanted to go outside and I did, but he hit it and he found a place to put it.”
One obstacle that has held Jimenez back is his tendency to put the leadoff batter on base. He has started 42 innings since the outset of July and allowed 26 leadoff batters to reach. There might not be any hard and fast percentages that separate good from bad in this category, but 62 percent surely isn’t a plus for a pitcher.
“I don’t think that’s a problem,” Jimenez said. “Even in the first inning, I got a double play. But every time the leadoff guy gets on, it’s harder.”
Jimenez didn’t pitch well, but even if he had, it’s doubtful he would have come away with a win. No starting pitcher is awarded a win when his team fails to score.
Actually scoring was only part of the Tribe’s dilemma. Getting a hit was a Herculean chore against Tigers starter Doug Fister. Through five innings, Fister allowed neither a hit nor a walk, and he retired the first two batters in the sixth, giving him 17 outs in a row.
That brought up the No. 9 batter in the lineup, Ezequiel Carrera, who was called up on Friday from Triple-A. So it looked like six innings of no-hit ball for Fister. Instead, Carrera launched a drive to center field, just over the head of Austin Jackson for a triple.
It was one of the few times that any Tribe batter has hit a ball over Jackson’s head. But in the ninth, Carrera did it again, chasing Jackson to the track to retrieve the ball. This time, Jason Kipnis grounded out to score Carrera with a consolation run.
Fister (6-7, 3.52 ERA) delivered a complete game, giving up four hits, walking none and striking out six.
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.