ARLINGTON -- Ian Kinsler stood and stared at Ubaldo Jimenez's first pitch as a member of the Indians on Friday night. The 91-mph fastball snapped into the glove of Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana for a called strike and a new era was officially under way.
Jimenez -- the Tribe's prized acquisition before Sunday's non-waiver Trade Deadline -- made his much-anticipated debut at Rangers Ballpark, giving the Indians an inconsistent outing during an 8-7, 11-inning loss to Texas. Jimenez showed flashes of brilliance and lapses in control in receiving a rude welcome to life in the American League.
"I'm really disappointed," Jimenez said. "I really take it personally."
Jimenez referred to the way in which the Indians (55-55) slipped to their latest defeat. Closer Chris Perez surrendered a game-tying two-run home run to Michael Young in the ninth inning, and Elvis Andrus caught the Tribe sleeping with an aggressive play on the basepaths for the decisive blow in the 11th.
The loss dropped Cleveland four games behind first-place Detroit in the battle for the American League Central crown. It also lowered the Tribe's record to 2-3 on its current gauntlet run through Boston and Texas. All three losses have come in walk-off fashion, providing some added sting.
"We had them right where we wanted them," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Ninth inning with the lead and our closer on the mound. Unfortunately, we couldn't get it done. They came back on us and beat us."
The way Jimenez saw things, Cleveland never would have been faced with either late-inning scenarios had he pitched more effectively against Texas' potent lineup. Battling triple-digit heat -- the temperature at first pitch was announced as 105 degrees -- and the potent Rangers lineup, Jimenez surrendered five runs on seven hits over five-plus innings.
On Saturday, the Indians and Rockies agreed on a five-player swap that brought Jimenez -- third in National League Cy Young balloting a year ago -- to Cleveland. The trade was finalized on Sunday, and the Tribe sent a package of four Minor Leaguers, including top pitching prospects Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, to the Rockies.
Needless to say, this was not the way Jimenez envisioned his debut for the Tribe.
"There were no nerves," Jimenez said. "I would say I was really excited, but the first one is never easy. I tried to go out there and tried to do anything to give my team a chance to win. They did everything for me today, but I wasn't able to hold the lead."
Cleveland's offense -- powered by Santana's career-high five RBIs -- spotted Jimenez a 3-0 lead after one inning, a 6-1 advantage through two and a 7-2 cushion after three. Santana's 17th homer of the season was a three-run shot off Texas lefty Derek Holland in the first. Shelley Duncan added a solo blast off reliever Scott Feldman in the third.
Even with the early breathing room, Jimenez's sporadic control allowed the Rangers to claw their way back into the contest.
Kinsler led off the first inning with a double that one-hopped the wall in center field, and the Rangers' second baseman later scored on a wild pitch from Jimenez. In the second inning, Yorvit Torrealba doubled and eventually crossed home plate on an RBI single from Andrus. Mitch Moreland added a run-scoring double in the third.
"Ubaldo had the stuff -- pretty good stuff," Acta said. "He just didn't have very good command early in the game. His pitch count went up too much in the first three innings, and that ended up hurting him after he got into a little rhythm."
Jimenez retired the side in order in each of the fourth and fifth innings and his velocity seemed to rise as the evening wore on. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels noted after the game that Texas' pitchers have jokingly called the ballpark's radar gun "The Humbler" due to its low readings.
Throughout the night, "The Humbler" had Jimenez consistently hitting between 93-98 mph with his heater. In his five innings of work, Jimenez chalked up seven strikeouts, including five combined against sluggers Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz.
Jimenez was knocked out of the game in the sixth, however, after the righty's pitch count climbed to 108 following a leadoff homer to Mike Napoli and a walk to Moreland. Reliever Chad Durbin took over and eventually allowed a sacrifice fly to Endy Chavez that put the final touch on Jimenez's first line for the Tribe.
"He should've gotten the win," Perez said of Jimenez. "He showed everything we thought we were getting. He flashed the velocity, had good offspeed. His location was just a little off and his pitch count got high."
Perez's command was just a little off to Young, who drilled a misplaced fastball out to straightaway center field for a two-out two-run homer in the ninth inning to pull the game into a 7-7 deadlock. Just like that, Jimenez's shot at escaping with his first career win for Cleveland went up in smoke.
"Its [stinks] that I spoiled Ubaldo's debut for us and spoiled his win," Perez said. "Hopefully, I get out there again [on Saturday]."
In the 10th inning, the Indians looked to have an opportune scoring chance when Matt LaPorta and Kosuke Fukudome pieced together consecutive one-out singles. Rather than turning to the left-handed Travis Hafner to face Rangers righty Neftali Feliz, Acta stuck with Duncan in the key situation.
Duncan grounded into a critical inning-ending double play.
Acta said going to Hafner was not an option.
"It was a day off," Acta said. "Completely a day off for him. Hafner shouldn't even have been a temptation in the 10th. We should've won the game in the ninth inning."
In the home half of the 11th inning, Andrus reached on a two-out bunt single against Indians lefty Rafael Perez before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Hamilton followed with a grounder to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who gloved the ball and fired quickly to LaPorta at first base.
Hamilton was ruled safe, but Andrus never broke stride on the play, catching LaPorta off guard at first. LaPorta hesitated before finally relaying the ball to the plate, but the damage had been done. Andrus slid in for the game-winning run, setting off an on-field celebration for Texas.
"You catch the ball and throw home," Acta said. "At first base, you don't even worry whether the guy is going to be safe or out. You just come off the bag and you throw home. That's the winning run. That's what you do."
It was a disappointing finish to a day that was supposed to be dedicated to Jimenez.
"I was really excited to go out there," Jimenez said. "We got on top, because the team gave me enough runs, but I didn't do my job. I have to be ready for my next one."