After losing to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, in a game where the Indians’ offense was only able to score two runs, the Tribe bounced back on Monday night with a decisive 7-3 win over the Oakland A’s at Progressive Field.
The Indians did lots of different things well to win the game. They got home runs from Jason Kipnis, Mark Reynolds, and Asdrubral Cabrera, who hit two. They got an early lead, thanks to the first-inning homers from Kipnis and Cabrera. If I recall correctly, the Indians are 12-2 this season when they score before their opponent does, so it’s good to see them score right away and play from ahead.
Although the Indians were only 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position, those two hits were big. In the seventh inning, a bases-loaded single from Jason Giambi took the score from 4-2 to 6-2, and Ryan Raburn’s double drove in the seventh run. It’s always a luxury to be able to go into the eighth inning with a five-run lead instead of a two-run lead. It’s a measure of the offensive capability of this year’s team that despite going only 2 for 11 with RISP, they were still able to put seven runs on the board. Had that happened last season, they probably would only have scored three or four runs all game, tops.
The defense was solid, too, with the Tribe committing no errors, and with Raburn making a good catch against the right field wall in the second inning to take a double or triple away from Brandon Moss.
And then there was the pitching of Ubaldo Jimenez. When you look at his line on the evening, it doesn’t seem wildly impressive: two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings, four hits, one homer, three walks. But: eight strikeouts, and 14 first-pitch strikes to the 24 batters he faced. Half of the hits and two of the walks Jimenez allowed took place in the sixth, when his pitch count began to rise and he grew tired. And while you’d assuredly like to see your #2 starter give you at least six, maybe seven, innings before calling on the bullpen, even the best of them falter from time to time, and Jimenez kept the Indians in the game and got the win, his second of the season.
The bullpen did its job well too, allowing only one run over 3 1/3 innings. Joe Smith pitched a scoreless ninth inning, throwing nine strikes in eleven pitches.
All told, a fine victory for the good guys, and a great way to begin the four-game series against the A’s. Taking two of the remaining three games would be very nice indeed. It’s not easy to win a four-game series, but it’s certainly within the Indians’ grasp. This team has scored six or more runs in seven of their last eight games, so if the bats stay hot, they might very well be able to pull it off.
Note: as you might already know, less than three miles from Progressive Field, the city of Cleveland made the national news on Monday evening with the discovery that three young women—two of the three were actually girls at the time—were found safe in a residential home after having gone missing nine, ten, and eleven years ago. Baseball is important to the people who write for IPL, and presumably to those of you who read it, but let’s not forget that the true heroes in Cleveland on Monday weren’t Jason Kipnis or Ubaldo Jimenez, but rather men and women like Charles Ramsey, the man being interviewed here. A friend of mine put it better than I could when she said that Ramsey is “a true Clevelander: kind, ready to help in a crisis, and candid.” It is people like that who make a city strong.