CLEVELAND -- The Indians acquired Ubaldo Jimenez with visions of him taking the mound in pressure-packed situations, staying calm in critical contests and guiding his club to victories that carried added weight.
On Wednesday night, Jimenez made his much-anticipated home debut for the Indians in exactly that scenario. Facing Detroit in an integral game, Jimenez was the beneficiary of a wealth of offense, allowing him to settle in and shut down the Tigers in a 10-3 win at Progressive Field.
Jimenez -- acquired from the Rockies in a five-player trade on July 31 -- smiled when asked if he enjoys being thrown immediately into a playoff race.
"I've been there before, especially in the playoffs," Jimenez said. "So I know how it's just an unbelievable experience. You come to the stadium every day expecting to win. Everything counts. Every pitch. Every out. Every inning. It's really fun."
Jimenez came to Cleveland with four career postseason starts under his belt, including an outing for the Rockies in the 2007 World Series against the Red Sox. A year ago, Jimenez won 19 games, threw a no-hitter and finished third in balloting for the National League Cy Young Award.
The Tribe's confidence undoubtedly increased upon his arrival.
"When you have a guy like that," Indians manager Manny Acta said, "before the game starts, you feel like you have a chance to win the ballgame. You have a guy that can dominate any type of lineup."
If the Indians have their way, Jimenez will make a few more playoff apperances during his stay in Cleveland -- perhaps as soon as this season. First, however, the Tribe has to catch up to the Tigers.
The latest victory for Cleveland (58-56) helped the club continue to gain ground on American League Central-leading Detroit (61-55). One night after capturing a 3-2, 14-inning win that ended at 1:52 a.m. ET, the Tribe used an outpouring of offense and a solid eight-inning effort from Jimenez to pull within two games in the standings.
"These are the type of games we brought him in for," said Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. "To face Detroit, to face the White Sox, to face guys in our division that haven't seen too much of him. These are they type of wins that we need out of him."
Jimenez (1-0) owes much of his first win in a Tribe uniform to Kipnis and the offense.
Kipnis led the 10-run, 18-hit barrage with a 5-for-5 showing that altered a few pages in Cleveland's history book. He became the first Indians rookie since Jim Fridley in 1952 to tally at least five hits and score four runs in a single game. Only six Tribe hitters since '46 have had such a showing.
In the first inning, Kipnis singled off Detroit's Rick Porcello and scored on a base hit from Carlos Santana. One frame later, the second baseman launched his sixth homer of the season -- all coming in his past 10 games -- to help push Cleveland to a 4-0 advantage. Kipnis singled and scored in a four-run fifth, doubled in the sixth and added a single for good measure in the seventh.
"Needless to say, he's been pretty impressive," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "I would say that's an understatement. He's a good-looking young hitter."
Porcello (11-7) was chased from the contest after allowing eight runs on 11 hits over 3 2/3 innings -- easily his worst outing of the season. It was also the right-hander's first loss to the Indians in nine starts against the division rival.
Kipnis' performance paced an overall effort that saw each member of the Tribe's starting lineup collect at least one hit. Seven were doubles. It was a furious showing that helped Cleveland notch its 13 consecutive victory over Detroit at home. That marks the longest such run since the Indians' 15-game home streak over the Tigers between the 1994-97 campaigns.
"It was a little bit infectious today," Kipnis said. "Everyone was hitting. Everyone was having good swings tonight. It went down the order, one through nine, and everyone contributed, so it was a lot of fun to hit tonight."
Kipnis might have stolen the show, but the game served as a warm welcome for Jimenez.
In order to land the ace pitcher, Cleveland agreed to ship both of its top pitching prospects -- right-hander Alex White and left-hander Drew Pomeranz -- to Colorado. It was a steep asking price, but one the Indians felt was worth the gamble. Against the Tigers, Jimenez provided a glimpse into what Cleveland sees in him.
"He gave us exactly what we needed," Acta said.
Cleveland's bullpen was fatigued after Tuesday's draining contest and Jimenez answered with eight innings and 117 pitches. The right-hander varied his speeds, registering anywhere from 89-96 mph with his fastball, and ended the evening with six strikeouts, one walk and six hits allowed.
Only in the fourth inning did Jimenez flinch.
With two outs, Indians first baseman Carlos Santana was unable to catch a relay throw from shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, allowing Victor Martinez to reach on an infield single. The Tigers followed with a triple, walk and double to produce a trio of runs that held up as the only damage done.
The rest of the way, Jimenez lived up to the hype.
"He's a young guy with a real good arm and very good equipment," Leyland said. "He pitched a good game, no question about it. I mean, he's a talent."