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 Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.