DETROIT -- Starting pitchers thrive on a five-day routine, sticking to strict workout schedules and throwing programs between each outing. For Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, a break from his usual program acted as a breath of fresh air.
On Tuesday night, Jimenez took the mound at Comerica Park -- a stadium that chewed him up and spit him out in the past -- and guided the Indians to a 4-2 victory over the rival Tigers. He did so after an eight-day hiatus from the rotation and the pitcher believes the time off did him wonders.
"It gave me a break mentally and physically," Jimenez said. "It gave me a couple more days to rest not only my body, but my mind. I was able to come to the stadium today and just have fun out there. I was not thinking too much or overdoing this or that. I wasn't stressed."
Jimenez was at ease and he pitched like it throughout his 6 2/3 innings for the Indians. Supported by a trio of run-scoring triples -- a rare feat for Cleveland -- the right-hander helped the Tribe pick up a win in the first tilt of a nine-game, 10-day trek that will take the team to Detroit, St. Louis and Cincinnati.
It was an encouraging win for a club that had just two wins in its past nine games.
"Hopefully we get on a little bit of a roll," Indians center fielder Michael Brantley said. "It's a nice way to start a long road trip."
Brantley had one of Cleveland's three triples against Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly, who took the loss after giving up four runs in six innings. Brantley's run-scoring three-base hit put the Tribe up 4-1 in the sixth inning. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Lou Marson chipped in an RBI triple apiece in the third and fifth inning, respectively.
Shin-Soo Choo contributed an RBI single in the fifth, but the triples stole the spotlight.
It marked the first time since April 7, 2002 -- also on the road in Detroit -- that Cleveland collected three triples in a single game. The last time the Tribe had a trio of RBI triples was Aug. 12, 2001, in a road game against Texas. The Indians had at least three triples with no other extra-base hits for the first time since July 10, 1966, at Kansas City.
"It's awesome," Brantley said. "With this park, it's a big outfield. There's a lot of room out there. With the speed that we have on the basepaths and in our lineup, hopefully we get a couple more before we get out of here."
Asked about the triples, Jimenez flashed a wide smile.
"Triples and inside-the-park home runs are the most exciting plays in the game," Jimenez said. "It's hard to see one triple. Imagine seeing three triples in the same game."
Things got off to a rocky start in the first inning for Jimenez, who hit Detroit leadoff man Quintin Berry with his fourth pitch of the game. Berry promptly stole second base and then scored on an RBI double by slugger Miguel Cabrera. It was the Major League-leading 45th run allowed by the Indians this season.
Detroit had a quick 1-0 lead and it seemed like Jimenez might be on his way to another rough outing. The righty entered the evening with a 5.79 ERA and an American League-leading 42 walks and seven wild pitches. Last time out on May 27, Jimenez yielded seven runs in just four innings of a road start against the White Sox.
Jimenez also developed some cramping in his left side during that start, helping convince the Indians to give him some extra rest between starts.
This time around, however, Jimenez managed to find his footing.
"Nice job by Jimenez today," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He had a good fastball and he was very aggressive with it. He pitched behind a little bit, but he never gave in. That's what really made the difference for him today. No traffic out there."
Following Cabrera's double in the first inning, Jimenez retired 16 of the next 17 hitters he faced -- the lone exception being a bunt single by Ramon Santiago. Between the sixth and seventh innings, Jimenez gave up three singles and issued his lone walk of the game, but he escaped any damage.
Lefty Nick Hagadone entered in relief of Jimenez with two runners aboard and two outs in the seventh, and induced a flyout off the bat of Berry to end the threat. Vinnie Pestano held the Tigers in check in the eighth and closer Chris Perez notched his 18th save despite giving up one run in the ninth.
As a result, Jimenez picked up a well-earned win after heading into the night 0-4 with a 9.78 ERA in his career at Comerica Park.
"We've hit him pretty well the last couple years," Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. "He just threw the ball really well. I mean, he probably didn't throw it as well as he wanted to. He was falling behind a lot of guys, but he did make pitches when he needed to. That's the name of the game."
It was certainly a positive start for Jimenez.
"He's been leading the league in walks, with more walks than strikeouts," Acta said. "He's better than that. He knows that. We know that. Today was a step in the right direction."
And hopefully a sign of things to come.
"With an outing like this," Jimenez said, "I just want to keep it going."