Ubaldo bit by long ball; Tribe drops fifth straight

Ubaldo bit by long ball; Tribe drops fifth straight

Ubaldo bit by long ball; Tribe drops fifth straight
NEW YORK -- There are times when resorting to cliches is acceptable. On Wednesday afternoon, all Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez could do was tip his cap after being beaten in a battle of wits with Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.

In the sixth inning of Cleveland's 5-4 loss to New York, completing a three-game sweep suffered at the hands of the Yankees, Cano used a gorgeous swing to slice an outside offering from Jimenez into the left-field seats. The two-run blast proved to be the most damaging blow in the Tribe's fifth consecutive loss.

"What can I say?" Jimenez said with a shrug of his shoulders. "It wasn't even a mistake. He just hit it good."

During the Tribe's ongoing slide, a singular moment like that meeting between Jimenez and Cano can carry a lot of weight. Jimenez turned in a respectable performance, but the Indians (37-37), who have gone 11-19 since being a season-high eight games over .500 on May 24, were unable to avoid another trip to the loss column.

The Indians are now 1-5 on their current road trip, with four games looming in Baltimore.

Cleveland slipped to 5-16 on the season against left-handed starters, though the club only saw Yankees veteran Andy Pettitte for four innings. A sharply-hit grounder from Casey Kotchman to open the fifth fractured Pettitte's left ankle and sent him limping off the field and into the training room. The pitcher is expected to miss at least six weeks.

"That's really hard. I feel bad," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's worked so hard to come back again and pitch this year, and he's doing very well. Regardless of whether he's on the other side, you don't want to see guys get hurt. I didn't know that it was that serious."

The Pettitte news -- coupled with the loss of injured ace CC Sabathia to the disabled list -- could be a turning point within New York's season. The American League East-leading Yankees (46-28) boast an offense that can overcome such issues, though. That was evident in the finale of this three-game set in the Bronx.

For the Tribe, the turning point came in the sixth.

Clinging to a 3-2 lead, Jimenez allowed a leadoff double to Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. The Cleveland right-hander then used a fastball and splitter to quickly put Cano behind, 0-2. Jimenez sent his third pitch -- a 92-mph heater -- high and inside to brush the second baseman back.

That set up the final pitch in the confrontation.

"I was trying to go a little bit inside and trying to get him off the plate," Jimenez said, "and then go with a breaking ball outside. I did it. I executed, but it didn't happen this time."

Jimenez unleashed a 1-2 slider to the outside corner and Cano swung like he knew what was coming. With a quick flick of his wrists, Cano sent the ball arching high over left field and into the stands, dropping the Indians behind, 4-3.

"He's a guy who uses the whole field," Acta said. "That's what good hitters do. He doesn't let this ballpark influence him, because of the short porch and trying to pull everything. He's able to do that. Good hitters are able to do that, and that was an example of it."

The blast was the 18th of the season for Cano, who has launched seven long balls in his past 10 games, during which he has hit at a .389 (14-for-36) clip. Over his last 21 contests, the Yankees' All-Star second baseman has hit .373 (28-for-75) with 10 home runs and 17 RBIs, helping New York surge up the standings.

"He's a great hitter," Jimenez said. "We were trying to throw a backdoor slider, and it was. It was a backdoor slider, and it was even off the plate. I saw the replay. He was able to just to hang in there. You could even see he hit it with one arm, and he hit it out.

"That was a really good pitcher's pitch. He's a really good hitter. He's a great hitter. Right now, he's hitting everything."

Jimenez (7-6), who has a 2.78 ERA over his last five starts, picked up the loss after being charged with four runs on four hits in six innings of work. The right-hander struck out seven and walked four in the effort. Jimenez also surrendered a two-run double to Eric Chavez in the fourth inning.

Chavez added an RBI single against Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano in the eighth.

The Indians scored a pair of runs -- only one earned -- in four innings against Pettitte, who initially remained in the game after being struck by Kotchman's infield single at the start of the fifth inning. The lefty was pulled after throwing a strike to the next batter, Indians catcher Lou Marson.

"That's really bad," Jimenez said. "Knowing Andy Pettitte, I mean, he's a competitor. He's a great pitcher. Everybody has followed him -- even when I was a kid. He's been with the Yankees for a long time. It's really sad. It's really sad for any pitcher. It could happen to anyone."

Later in the fifth inning, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis connected for consecutive RBI singles with two outs to help Cleveland grab a short-lived 3-2 advantage. Michael Brantley drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning against Yankees closer Rafael Soriano in a last-ditch effort to swing the momentum.

Cleveland could not complete the comeback, but the team left town nonetheless encouraged.

"I think it was a step in the right direction," Kipnis said. "It thought we played better today. We're getting closer to playing more of a complete game. I thought Ubaldo still pitched great. We've just got to have more consistent at-bats. We just haven't been hitting with runners in scoring position."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.