Ubaldo Jimenez had plenty of highs and lows during his tenure with the Indians. On Saturday, facing the Indians, he didn’t stay in the game long enough to have anything but a lowly outing.
The Indians took it to Jimenez early, knocking him out of the game in the second inning en route to an 11-4 win against the Baltimore Orioles. The victory also put the Indians in first place in the American League Central after the Chicago White Sox blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning and lost to the Kansas City Royals.
It’s the first time the Indians have been in first place in the division since winning their Opening Day game against the Oakland Athletics on March 31, 2014, more than two years ago.
A day after Trevor Bauer was knocked around in the first inning, the Indians returned the favor to Jimenez (2-6, 6.36 ERA) with six runs in the first two innings, though only three were earned.
Carlos Santana started it with a single, Jason Kipnis walked and Mike Napoli reached on an error by Pedro Alvarez that scored two. After Jose Ramirez walked with two outs, Napoli led a double-steal that put both runners in scoring position. Yan Gomes then rifled a single to right field that scored both, putting the Indians on top 4-0.
The Indians (26-21) added two more two-out runs in the second inning, as Francisco Lindor singled, stole second and scored on a single off the bat of Napoli. Ramirez was walked again, ending Jimenez’s day and bringing on Vance Worley, who gave up a single to Juan Uribe to extend the Indians’ lead to 6-0.
Jimenez has struggled this season but has had flashes of his former ace self. The Indians did well to capitalize on a poor start.
“How many times do you see a guy where you let him off the hook and then they settle into the game?” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “We did a good job of not allowing that to happen. It made for a better game for us because you could see them coming.”
In the third, Lonnie Chisenhall doubled and Rajai Davis singled to set up another rally. Santana grounded into a double play, but it was enough to score Chisenhall, who later left the game with blurred vision after getting dirt in his eye sliding into second base.
In part thanks to some shaky Orioles (27-20) defense, the Indians continued to add on. Gomes, who finished with three RBI, singled in a run in the fifth after Uribe reached on a second error by Alvarez. In the seventh, Santana added an RBI-single and Michael Martinez later scored on an error by Matt Wieters trying to throw out Santana on an attempted steal of second base. Finally, Jose Ramirez continued his hot streak with an RBI-single in the eighth.
In all, the Indians scored their 11 runs via 11 hits, five stolen bases and four Orioles errors.
It was plenty of offense to support starter Danny Salazar, who threw six innings, allowed two runs on six hits and struck out five. It was a quality outing for Salazar (5-3, 2.39 ERA) who has been dynamic all season with the exception of his last outing in Boston, in which he took a step back. Having an immediate cushion helped as well.
“I think that’s great, gives you a little more confidence to go out there and to work really strong so they can’t come back,” Salazar said. “I think that’s big. I think that makes the game a little bit easier for us.”