Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez pitched his team into the post-season — at least for one game — with a sterling performance against the Twins. The right-hander allowed just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out 13. It marks a season-high in strikeouts and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. He also lowered his ERA on the season to 3.30.
Nick Swisher gave Jimenez some early run support with a two-run home run in the first inning. The Indians tacked on two more in the sixth and another in the seventh to take a 5-1 lead. Mark Rzepczynski and Justin Masterson teamed up to blank the Twins the rest of the way to wrap up the victory.
The victory is the Indians’ tenth in a row, a fantastic way to wrap up the season. They finish September 21-6 and secure themselves a chance to advance to the ALDS if they can win the Wild Card play-in game at home on Wednesday against the winner of tomorrow’s one-game play-in to the one-game play-in — effectively the 163rd game of the regular season — between the Rangers and Rays to decide the winner of the second AL Wild Card spot. The Indians will be playing in the post-season for the first time since 2007.
23-year-old rookie Danny Salazar will start for the Indians on Wednesday. The right-hander has a 3.12 ERA in 52 innings spanning 10 starts since being made a featured part of the rotation in August.
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.