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.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.