(Sports Network) – The Cleveland Indians acquired Ubaldo Jimenez in the hopes that the former All-Star could make a difference in the American League Central race.
The right-hander gets a hands-on chance at that tonight in the middle portion of a three-game set as the Tribe look to extend their recent home domination of the first-place Detroit Tigers in Jimenez’s home debut at Progressive Field.
Acquired from the Rockies prior to the non-waiver trade deadline for prospects, Jimenez made his first start with Cleveland on Friday and did not get a decision in an 8-7 loss to the Rangers. He was charged with five runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings, striking out seven.
“There were no nerves,” Jimenez told Cleveland’s website of his debut. “I would say I was really excited, but the first one is never easy. I tried to go out there and tried to do anything to give my team a chance to win. They did everything for me today, but I wasn’t able to hold the lead.”
Jimenez, who went 6-9 with a 4.46 earned run average in 21 starts with Colorado this year before the trade, faced the Tigers during interleague play on June 18 and picked up a win. The 27-year-old gave up three runs over five innings, moving to 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in three career starts versus the club.
The pressure will be on Jimenez to perform tonight after the Indians took last night’s opener, 3-2, in 14 innings for their 12th straight home victory over the Tigers. The triumph pulled Cleveland to within three games of the AL Central lead.
Four of the five runs in the game came during the first two innings and nobody crossed the plate again until Kosuke Fukudome was hit by a David Pauley pitch with the bases loaded in the 14th frame nearly seven hours after the first pitch because of a lengthy rain delay.
“We just didn’t do anything with their bullpen. Their bullpen shut us down. We just didn’t get a big hit,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after his team’s second straight loss.
The starting pitchers were casualties of the long weather delay. Detroit’s Doug Fister and Justin Masterson of Cleveland both gave up two runs and four hits in two innings. Duane Below threw four perfect innings of long relief for the Tigers, striking out three, while Chad Durbin gave up a hit in three innings for the Indians. Below has retired 22 straight batters in relief appearances.
“All the credit goes to our bullpen, 12 shutout innings to allow us to go out there and score a run,” Indians manager Manny Acta said of his seven relievers, including Frank Herrmann (3-0), who pitched two frames for the win.
Cleveland has won all four of its games at home versus Detroit this year and hasn’t dropped a game at Progressive Field in this series since May 8 of last season. That run could be in jeopardy tonight given that Tigers starter Rick Porcello has never lost to the Indians, going 4-0 with a 2.32 ERA in eight career meetings.
Porcello is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in five games at Progressive Field, getting a no-decision there on April 30. The 22-year-old gave up two runs over seven innings, with the mistakes being solo homers to Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana.
Porcello, who is 11-6 with a 4.49 ERA in 21 starts this year, pitched well his last time out but still failed to win a sixth straight start for the first time in his career. Facing the Royals on Friday, he did not factor into the decision of a 4-3 win after yielding three runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. The young righty struck out four and did not walk a batter for a second straight outing.