Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 6/23/12
The Indians got a strong pitching performance from an unexpected source Friday in beating the Astros 2-0 in Houston. The winning pitcher was Ubaldo Jimenez, who came into the game with a 6.21 ERA in seven road starts, but pitched 6 23 scoreless innings to get the win. It was a nice way for the Indians to begin a challenging 10-game trip that will take them from Houston to New York to play the Yankees, and then to Baltimore. It was also another step forward for Jimenez, who has struggled with his consistency for much of the 2012 season but finally appears to be on a roll. Despite having a winning record, Jimenez came into the game with a 5.00 ERA in his first 13 starts. However, he has been much better in his last four, all in the month of June. His win Friday improved Jimenez's record to 7-5 and lowered his ERA to 4.59. "Early in the year when his command wasn't there, as soon as guys got on base he unraveled," manager Manny Acta said. "Now, he doesn't panic. When somebody gets on base, he makes pitches." In four starts in June, Jimenez is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA. He has looked a lot closer to being the pitcher the Indians thought they were trading for nearly a year ago, when they sent four minor league prospects to Colorado for the 28-year-old right-hander. Jimenez's improved starts come at an opportune time for a couple of reasons. One of those is that the Indians play just eight games at home in June, and they have already played them. All of their remaining games this month are on the road. The other reason is that No. 1 starter Justin Masterson, who pitched a three-hitter in an 8-1 win over Cincinnati on Thursday, is also pitching the best he has pitched all season. In order for the Indians to remain a contender, they are going to need the leadership from the top of the rotation that Masterson and Jimenez can provide. With both pitchers now pitching better than they have all year, that bodes well for the Indians on this road trip. NOTES, QUOTES Perez saves 23rd straight chance --RHP Chris Perez extended his streak of consecutive saves to 23 by striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning of the Indians' 2-0 win over Houston on Friday. "He pitched very aggressively and was lights out," manager Manny Acta said. Perez blew a save on opening day but is 23-for-23 in save situations since then. The 23 saves lead the major leagues. --RHP Ubaldo Jimenez pitched 6 23 scoreless innings to get the win in the Indians' 2-0 win over Houston on Friday. "Early in the year when his command wasn't there, as soon as guys got on base he unraveled," Acta said. "Now, he doesn't panic. When somebody gets on base, he makes pitches." Jimenez, who had a 6.75 ERA in six starts in May, is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts in June. --2B Jason Kipnis, who leads the Indians in several offensive categories, hasn't been in many slumps this season, but he's in a mini-slump now. Kipnis was 0-for-3 Friday and is hitless in his last 12 at-bats. --RHP Vinnie Pestano pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam when relieving RHP Ubaldo Jimenez in the seventh inning Friday. Pestano has stranded all 13 base runners he has inherited this season. That's the most inherited runners stranded by any AL reliever. --RHP Justin Masterson's three-hit 8-1 win over the Reds on Thursday was the first complete game by an Indians pitcher at Progressive Field in almost two years. Prior to Masterson's, the last complete game at home by an Indians pitcher was by Josh Tomlin, on Sept. 24, 2010, vs. Kansas City. BY THE NUMBERS: 0-10 -- The Indians' record, prior to Friday night, in games in which they had five or fewer hits. Friday they had four hits but beat Houston 2-0. QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a guy we can trust, because he's done it in the past." -- Manager Manny Acta on RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, who after a slow start is now 7-5 and has a 2.05 ERA in four starts in June. ROSTER REPORTMEDICAL WATCH: --DH Travis Hafner (sore right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 24. He had surgery May 31 to repair a frayed meniscus. He took batting practice June 19, but the timetable for his return was uncertain. --LHP Rafael Perez (strained left lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 26. He was cleared to resume a throwing program in mid-June. --OF Grady Sizemore (back surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He was cleared to begin baseball activities in late April and took live batting practice May 16. His rehab was slowed again in early June, and there was no timetable for his return. --RHP Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery in September 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He is expected to throw off a bullpen mound in New York in late June. The timetable for his return to game action remains unknown.
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