Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez turned in a solid effort while the offense provided more than enough support to cut their deficit in the AL Central to five games. Meanwhile, the Tigers lost 1-0 to the Royals.
The offense put up a five-spot in the fourth on a two-run home run by Asdrubal Cabrera and a three-run home run by Lonnie Chisenhall, taking advantage of White Sox starter Andre Rienzo. The Indians tacked on two more in the sixth on Carlos Santana’s two-run single to center, which was initially deflected by shortstop Alexei Ramirez. One more run was added in the ninth on Ryan Raburn’s sacrifice fly.
The way Ubaldo Jimenez was pitching, though, the Indians didn’t need that many runs. The right-hander went eight and one-third innings, allowing just one run on eight hits and a walk while striking out eight. He allowed two consecutive singles with one out in the ninth before giving way to reliever C.C. Lee, who promptly allowed a single to load the bases. After surrendering a sacrifice fly to Josh Phegley, he retired Marcus Semien to end the contest.
With the 8-1 win, the Indians improve to 80-68, just five games behind the Tigers for first place in the AL Central. They also move one game behind the Rays for the second AL Wild Card.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.