Indians win tenth in a row, secure top AL Wild Card spot

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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.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.