I wasn’t looking forward to tonight’s game. The Seattle Mariners don’t have a very good team, it’s true, but they did have 2010 AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez taking the mound. The Indians, on the other hand, had Mr. Erratic, Ubaldo Jimenez, going for them. Jimenez, whose previous start saw him give up nine hits, five walks, and seven earned runs in 4⅓ innings, thus raising his season ERA by more than a full run.
So if you heard that one of these men had been removed in the fourth inning tonight after allowing ten hits, five walks, and eight runs, six of them earned, you’d figure it was Jimenez who’d gotten lit up like that. But no, it was King Felix. Tonight the Indians hitters made the King look like a commoner, as the Tribe twice had four-run innings, in the first and the fourth, and they beat the Mariners by a score of 9-3.
After the Mariners scored a run in the top of the first inning thanks to a couple of seeing-eye singles, a passed ball, and an RBI groundout, the Indians wasted no time in retaliating. Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis greeted Hernandez with a couple of singles. Hernandez then hit Asdrubal Cabrera with a pitch, loading the bases for DH Travis Hafner. Thanks to a passed ball off (or under) the glove of Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Choo scored from third, and Kipnis and Cabrera advanced to third and second. Hafner’s had trouble lately with men in scoring position, and although he grounded out to second here, he got an RBI when Kipnis crossed the plate. After Carlos Santana walked, and Michael Brantley struck out, Montero threw to third base to try to pick Cabrera off there, but the throw was wild, and Cabrera scored easily. Seattle left fielder Chone Figgins tracked down the ball, and he too threw wildly to third, allowing a hustling Santana to score as well, making the score 4-1, Indians. Seeing Santana round third and head for home was very reminiscent of Kenny Lofton’s scoring from second base in the 1995 ALCS. It’s always nice to see your team play some heads-up baseball!
I recently noted that when a pitcher goes six innings and allows only three earned runs, MLB calls that a quality start. I have a quarrel with that, to some extent, but that’s the kind of start Jimenez had today, and I was more than glad to get that much out of him. I would have liked seeing him go deeper into the game, but he did keep his walks to a minimum, allowing only two in his six innings of work. Three Tribe relievers each pitched an inning of scoreless relief, including Jeremy Accardo in his major league debut. Accardo, who had been called up on Monday from the Columbus Clippers to take the roster spot vacated by the recently departed and unlamented Dan Wheeler, retired all three hitters he faced in the seventh inning.
All the Indians starters had at least one hit tonight, except for Casey Kotchman. Five of the nine starters had two or three hits. As fellow IPL blogger Ryan McCrystal noted via Twitter, tonight’s game was the first home game in which the first four hitters in the lineup had two or more hits since September of 2009. Five different Indians hitters had doubles, including Travis Hafner, who also homered in the bottom of the sixth.
They say the way to make it to the playoffs is to win half the games you play against the good teams, and to beat the stuffing out of the scrub teams. Having just taken two games from the Minnesota Twins, and now one from the Mariners, the Indians have done just that in recent days. Let’s hope they can do as well tomorrow.
Speaking of the Twins, they helped the Indians tonight by beating the Detroit Tigers. The Indians now have a three-game lead in the AL Central.
Oh, it was Puppypalooza Night at Progressive Field, where fans could bring their dogs to the Budweiser Patio to enjoy the game. IPL co-owner Stephanie Liscio and her dog Torrey were there. Here’s Torrey rockin’ her Indians jersey. Stephanie reports that Torrey didn’t keep the shirt on for very long: “It lasted for exactly half of the first inning.” Come to think of it, so did the Mariners’ lead!
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