And that is why the Indians went out and acquired Ubaldo Jimenez. Eight innings, 6 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs. Simply amazing.
A night after playing 14 innings and throwing everyone in the bull pen at the Tigers, Ubaldo Jimenez gave them exactly what they needed, a dominating performance that allowed Manny Acta to rest his entire bull pen (with the exception of 1 inning from Frank Hermann). Thanks to Jimenez, the Indians go into tonight’s game against the Tigers with the core of its bullpen in tact and ready to go. Meanwhile, the Tigers had the exact opposite misfortune last night. Starter Rick Porcello got lit up which resulted in Jim Leyland going to his bullpen early and often.
Of course the Tigers may not need to use their bullpen tonight. Ace, and AL Cy Young favorite, Justin Verlander takes the mound. All Verlander did last time out against the Indians was throw a near no-hitter. I’d say it was a dominating performance, but that wouldn’t be doing it justice. If he hadn’t beaned Carlos Santana in a bizarre revenge plot, Verlander may have thrown a near perfect game. He’s scary good and having a career year, which is saying something considering the fact he’s had a pretty unbelievable career so far.
The one thing the Indians do have going in their favor is confidence. They come into tonight’s game on fire offensively. When they faced Verlander back in June they were in the middle of their 2 month-long slump. Now they’re back to hitting the ball with authority. It’s also a very different lineup from what Verlander saw back in June. Gone are Choo, Sizemore, Cabrera, and Hannhan. This time around he’ll face the likes of Fukudome, Kipnis, Chisenhall, and Duncan.
The Indians also have Verlander’s track record at Progressive Field working in their favor. For as dominant as Verlander has been in his career, he has completely sucked at when facing the Tribe in Cleveland. His career stats at Progressive Field are 4 wins, 8 losses, and an ERA of 6.31. Yes, he has one complete game shutout mixed in there, but the numbers don’t lie. Justin Verlander does not pitch well at Progressive Field. This game can be had.
The Indians need to play tonight’s game the same way they’ve been playing for the past week and a half now… with no fear. This team looks confident, is swinging the bats well, and is playing like it has nothing to lose but everything to gain. It also helps that Jason Kipnis is on fire right now having hit 6 home runs in 10 days. Carlos Santana is also hitting the ball well for the first time all year and Shelley Duncan in his return from Columbus has helped shore up a nagging hole in the outfield. Combine that with the steady play of Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis Hafner, and Michael Brantley (if he plays) and this Indians team finally looks like the team we say back in April and May.
So there you have it. The Indians have already accomplished what they needed to accomplish in this series. No matter what, they have gained ground on the Tigers. If they can go out and win tonight it will put them right back in the thick of things. Of course, these things are never easy. It’s going to take a complete effort to beat Verlander tonight. The offense will have to hit and Fausto Carmona will have to follow-up the performance of Jimenez with a gem of his own. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Game on, Detroit… Game on.