Ubaldo hit hard, late rally comes up short

Ubaldo hit hard, late rally comes up short

Ubaldo hit hard, late rally comes up short
TORONTO -- When the Indians traded for Ubaldo Jimenez at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last summer, they expected to get the frontline starter that anchored Colorado's staff.

They have only seen flashes of that pitcher at best, however, as Jimenez has been inconsistent since making the switch over to the American League, a trend that continued Saturday.

Jimenez turned in his worst performance of the season, surrendering eight runs, which matched a career high, while the offense came up short in an eighth-inning rally, as the Indians lost to the Blue Jays, 11-9, in front of 32,517 at Rogers Centre.

"I couldn't get my pitches over the plate, I was falling behind the count, and then once I tried to get in, they took advantage of it," said Jimenez, who was pulled after 2 1/3 innings -- his shortest outing of the season. "It was a really bad day."

Nothing seemed to work for the right-hander in his first career start in Toronto, and the long ball, which has troubled him all season, bit him again on Saturday.

Jimenez put his team in an early hole, surrendering two in the first inning before things got out of hand and he was chased from the game in the third.

The 28-year-old allowed six runs in the frame, including a pair of two-run homers, the first to Edwin Encarnacion, and then to Yunel Escobar two batters later.

Jimenez has now allowed 16 home runs on the season, and multiple long balls in four different starts.

Indians manager Manny Acta removed the hurler after he surrendered a pair of doubles following the homers, which was the fifth extra-base hit he allowed in the inning, and sixth of the game.

"Ubaldo didn't have it today, pitched behind in the count all day," Acta said. "If you are not going to throw 50 percent of your pitches for strikes, it's going to be rough for you."

Jimenez allowed eight runs on seven hits, while walking four and striking out two. He threw just 31 of his 64 pitches for strikes, and now leads the American League with 62 walks issued.

The only other time Jimenez has allowed eight runs in a game came Aug. 21, 2011, against the Tigers, in his fourth start as a member of the Indians.

Despite entering the game with a 2.93 ERA over his past seven starts, Jimenez's ERA spiked to 5.09 on the season, and over 29 starts since joining the Indians, he has an ERA of 5.11.

Jimenez said he didn't have a good feel for anything besides his slider, and only felt good throwing that pitch a couple times. For Jimenez, the biggest problem was that by not being able to execute with his secondary pitches, he was forced to throw too many fastballs, which made him predictable. Both homers he allowed came on fastballs, as did two of three doubles he surrendered in the third.

"The only thing I can do is turn the page, and get ready for my next start," said Jimenez, who only threw first-pitch strikes to four of the 18 batters he faced. "There is nothing else I can do."

Things weren't much better for Scott Barnes, who relieved Jimenez, as the lefty allowed two more runs in the third, part of an eight-run frame for the Blue Jays, which was the most the Indians have surrendered in an inning this season. Toronto recorded eight hits and sent 13 men to the plate to take a 10-2 lead.

The game wasn't over just yet, though.

Cleveland cut into the lead in the fourth, as Shelley Duncan hit a two-run homer, his ninth of the season, off Blue Jays starter Aaron Laffey to make it a 10-4 game.

The Indians then made the game interesting in the eighth.

Michael Brantley and Casey Kotchman both drilled a pair of two-run homers to right off Blue Jays reliever Jesse Chavez to make it an 11-8 game.

After putting two more runners on base, Travis Hafner came in to pinch-hit against Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen. Hafner delivered with an RBI single to cut Toronto's lead to 11-9.

Carlos Santana, the next batter, came up with two runners on, representing the go-ahead run, but flied out to right fielder Jose Bautista, who made a diving catch to end the rally.

"When the game gets like that, you just have to really fight hard to keep your focus," said Duncan, who went 3-for-4, with two runs scored and three RBIs. "A lot of times in blowouts ... it is easy to lose that concentration."

Laffey, a former Indians Draft pick, wasn't sharp, but earned his first victory of the season. He lasted five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, issuing three walks and striking out four.

"I kind of fought against myself there for a little bit, and then after that long inning, instead of being nice and fluid and letting the ball come out of my hand, I was kind of squeezing it a little bit and got myself into some trouble," said Laffey, who's 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA on the year.

Brantley's homer was his third hit of the day, and was the third consecutive three-hit game for the center fielder. He extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an infield single in the second inning.

Lou Marson hit a single in the eighth to extend his own streak to a career-best 10 games.

Despite the loss, Acta was at least pleased with the effort of his offense.

"I like the way we ended up putting up a fight," Acta said.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.