CLEVELAND — Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez deserved a better fate on Friday night. The rest of the Indians, however, received their just punishment.
Jimenez struck out a season-high 10 batters in six strong innings, but took the loss when the Minnesota Twins pulled away for a 5-1 victory over the Tribe.
Cleveland had its three-game winning streak snapped and remained 2½ games behind Oakland in the race for the final American League wild-card berth.
“It is a little bit disappointing because I thought I pitched pretty good, but it’s part of the game,” said Jimenez, who allowed two runs on five hits and walked three. “The guys aren’t going to score a lot of runs in every game, so I’m sure they’ll bounce back tomorrow.”
Jimenez (9-8, 3.95 ERA) started off shakily, loading the bases in the first inning on a double and two walks, only to strike out the next three batters and end the threat.
The Twins scored twice off the tall right-hander in the second, taking a 2-1 lead on RBI doubles by Pedro Florimon and Chris Herrmann, but only scratched out one hit in Jimenez’s next four frames.
“I thought tonight was the best stuff Ubaldo has had all year,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “After the first three guys got on, I don’t know if he got mad, but he beared down and really competed. Whatever happened, it worked.”
What didn’t work was the Tribe’s offense, which only managed six hits off Minnesota starter Samuel Deduno and relievers Brian Duensing and Casey Fien. Deduno (8-7, 3.69 ERA) allowed one run on three hits over six innings, striking out six.
Cleveland’s bullpen also deserved a failing grade for allowing three runs after Jimenez exited. Bryan Shaw and Rich Hill were both charged with tallies in the seventh, while Matt Albers allowed Minnesota’s final run in the eighth.
Twins designated hitter Josh Willingham delivered the costliest blow, doubling to the wall in right field off Cody Allen to score two runs.
“Cody actually threw a pretty good pitch,” Francona said. “I wasn’t unhappy with the location. That was just a nice piece of hitting by Willingham.”
The Indians scored their lone run in the first inning when Carlos Santana singled home Michael Bourn with two outs. Santana had two hits and remained in the game after being struck on the facemask by a piece of Justin Morneau’s shattered bat.
The Tribe’s only other legitimate threat against Deduno occurred in the sixth, when it somehow failed to score after collecting three walks.
Bourn and Nick Swisher logged bases on balls to start the frame, prompting Francona to instruct Jason Kipnis to sacrifice them over. AL All-Star Kipnis — in an 0-for-17 slump — not only failed to lay down a bunt, he struck out.
Bourn then called a double-steal, but got thrown out at third for the second out. After Carlos Santana walked, Michael Brantley meekly grounded out to end the inning.
“Kip is a very good bunter, but he didn’t get it down,” Francona said. “On the double steal, I like it when Bourny runs. We encourage that, but sometimes you’re going to have things like that happen. He didn’t get a real good jump, but with one out, I didn’t have any problem with it.”
Asdrubal Cabrera, Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, and Bourn accounted for Cleveland’s other hits.
Right-hander Deduno was only touched up for one single after the first inning, which Santana delivered in the fourth.
“Sam’s ball moves all over the place, that’s his forte,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Swisher told Morneau at first base that might be the nastiest stuff he’s seen all season — and Swisher has been around an awful lot of baseball.”
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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