While it took him a while to get going, Ubaldo Jimenez appears to have found his groove.
Jimenez looks for his recent success to carry over as the visiting Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays continue a three-game set Saturday.
Though his 5.79 ERA over the first two months left much to be desired, Jimenez (8-7, 4.50 ERA) has picked up the pace over his last seven starts, going 3-3 with a 2.93 ERA while striking out 44 in 46 innings. The right-hander, who's also limited opponents to a .226 average over that stretch, credits his improvement to a change in his delivery.
"It was all about the mechanics," he told MLB's official website. "I've been able to go out there just thinking about getting everybody out, instead of thinking, 'I have to do this or that to get better."
In his final start before the All-Star break, Jimenez gave up two runs, five hits and fanned a season best-tying eight over six innings last Saturday during a 7-3 victory over Tampa Bay.
"I'm only thinking about what I'm going to do in my next start and how I can help the team," he said.
Jimenez is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two career matchups with the Blue Jays (43-44). He gave up two runs in seven innings of a 7-4, 12-inning loss April 7 in his season debut.
Jimenez has a tough act to follow after Justin Masterson 's superb performance in Friday's 1-0 series-opening victory. Masterson threw seven innings of five-hit ball and Travis Hafner provided all the offense with his eighth homer.
"An excellent pitching performance," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
The AL East-worst Blue Jays, meanwhile, have dropped four of five thanks in part to hitting .216 - including a .179 mark with runners in scoring position. Toronto went 0 for 4 in such situations Friday.
"Any time you lose it's frustrating, whether you lose 10-0 or 1-0," losing pitcher Ricky Romero said.
The Blue Jays try to get back on track behind Aaron Laffey (0-1, 2.67). The left-hander has made the most of his opportunity while filling in for Toronto's injury-plagued rotation, going 0-1 with a 2.50 ERA over three starts.
"He keeps the game under control, throws a lot of strikes, doesn't get rattled in certain situations and is not going to pitch away from contact," manager John Farrell said. "Overall he's done a good job for us."
Laffey, though, wasn't particularly sharp July 6, yielding four runs and eight hits over six innings of a 4-2 road loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Laffey, who spent the first four years of his career with the Indians (45-41), has never started against his former team. He threw two scoreless innings of relief versus Cleveland in a 12-3 loss April 8, 2011, while with Seattle.
Laffey will need to be wary of Casey Kotchman , who's 9 for 10 with four doubles in their matchups.
Hoping to match a season high with its fourth consecutive road victory, Cleveland, winner of seven of 10 overall, has hit .282 in taking five of six at Toronto.
|June 30, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||15-Day DL||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 29, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||Day-to-Day||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 05, 2012||Jose Lopez||Day-to-Day||Sore lower back|
|May 27, 2012||Jack Hannahan||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 27, 2012||Jack Hannahan||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 26, 2012||Asdrubal Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Hamstring injury|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|July 09, 2012||Luis Perez||Day-to-Day||Torn ligament in left elbow|
|July 09, 2012||Luis Perez||60-Day DL||Torn ligament in left elbow|
|July 07, 2012||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|June 25, 2012||Robert Coello||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|June 16, 2012||Drew Hutchison||60-Day DL||Right UCL sprain|
|June 14, 2012||Kyle Drabek||15-Day DL||Sprained right elbow ligament|
TORONTO (AP) -- It wasn't just one thing that went wrong Saturday for Cleveland pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez , it was everything.
Edwin Encarnacion hit two home runs, Yunel Escobar also went deep and the Toronto Blue Jays used an eight-run third inning to beat the Indians 11-9.
Encarnacion and Escobar both hit two-run shots in Toronto's highest-scoring inning of the season. The Blue Jays had eight hits in the inning, six of them for extra bases.
Jimenez matched a career high by allowing eight earned runs and was chased after just 2 1-3 innings, his shortest start of the season.
"Everything was wrong today," Jimenez said. "I couldn't get my pitches over the plate. I was falling behind in the count and then once I tried to get in, they took advantage of it. It was a really bad day."
Jimenez (8-8) allowed seven hits, including two homers and four doubles.
"Obviously, Ubaldo didn't have it today," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's human. He had seven quality starts in a row for us and he had a bad one today."
Shelley Duncan , Michael Brantley and Casey Kotchman homered for the Indians. Down 10-2 early, Cleveland made it close with a five-run eighth before right fielder Jose Bautista made a nice catch with two on to end the inning.
"I liked the way we ended up making them bring the closer in in the eighth inning," Acta said. "The guys battled and had some good at-bats late in the game. Unfortunately, pitching is the name of the game and we just didn't pitch."
Encarnacion's second homer was a 448-foot solo drive to left-center off Jeremy Accardo in the fifth, a drive that landed in the third-deck restaurant. The home runs were the 24th and 25th of the season for Encarnacion, who signed a three-year, $29 million contract extension over the All-Star break. It was his first multihomer game of the season and the eighth of his career.
"He always had a lot of power and this year he's taking advantage when pitchers fall behind in the count," Jimenez said. "If you make a mistake, he's making you pay for it."
Adam Lind had four hits and drove in four runs for the Blue Jays.
"Just an outstanding offensive day," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "It turned out once again we needed every run that was scored."
Aaron Laffey (1-1) worked five innings for his first victory since Sept. 17, 2011, when he beat Toronto while pitching in relief for the New York Yankees . The left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits, walked three and struck out four.
Casey Janssen got the final four outs for his 13th save in 14 chances.
Lind got the Blue Jays started with a two-out, two-run double in the first. Cleveland answered with two in the second when Duncan was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Casey Kotchman grounded into a double play.
Bautista doubled to begin the Toronto third and Encarnacion followed with a homer to left. Lind singled and Escobar homered into the second deck in left.
"The potential in this lineup is pretty formidable," Lind said.
J.P. Arencibia chased Jimenez with an RBI double and Brett Lawrie greeted reliever Scott Barnes with a first-pitch double to right. Four batters later, Lind capped the inning by grounding a two-run single.
Duncan started Cleveland's comeback effort with a two-run homer to left in the fourth that made it 10-4.
Trailing 11-4 after Encarnacion's second homer, the Indians fought back against Jesse Chavez in the eighth. Carlos Santana walked and Brantley followed with a two-run shot. Duncan singled and Kotchman chased Chavez by homering.
Rookie Drew Carpenter replaced Chavez and got two outs, then issued back-to-back walks to Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis . Janssen came on to face pinch hitter Travis Hafner , who lined an RBI single.
Santana followed with a sinking liner, but Bautista ended the rally with a sliding catch, similar to the one he made to retire Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in Tuesday night's All-Star game.
NOTES: Toronto OF Rajai Davis threw out Kipnis at home plate for the final out of the fifth. ... Brantley had three hits, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Indians LHP Rafael Perez (strained back muscle) is scheduled to throw one inning Saturday in a rehab appearance with Double-A Akron. ... The Blue Jays optioned Chavez to Triple-A Las Vegas after the game and recalled RHP Chad Beck from Triple-A. ... Toronto's record for extra base hits in an inning is seven, set Aug. 2, 2010 at New York. On that day, Encarnacion homered and the Blue Jays his six doubles in a seven-run fifth inning, beating the Yankees 8-6.