SEATTLE -- Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has experienced a variety of issues on the mound at various points throughout his career. Until this season, giving up home runs at a high rate had not been one of them.
"It's crazy," Jimenez said. "I don't know what it is. I guess it's just that every time I fall behind in the count, I try to throw a fastball in there and they're hacking hard and getting it out of the park."
Jimenez surrendered a pair of home runs in his most recent outing on Monday, when he took the loss after giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings in Seattle. On the season, the right-hander has yielded a career-high 23 home runs in 143 1/3 innings.
His previous high was 17 long balls allowed in 188 1/3 innings a year ago.
Entering this season, Jimenez gave up 0.6 home runs per nine innings over the course of his career. This season, he has given up homers at a rate of 1.4 per nine innings.
Indians manager Manny Acta believes there is a simple explanation: Jimenez is falling behind in the count more often. Jimenez's first-pitch strike rate of 53 percent is tied for the lowest average of his career, while his overall strike rate of 59 percent is the lowest single-season mark of his career.
"Pitching behind in the count doesn't help," Acta said. "That's been the key. ... You don't want to put yourself in those spots. That's where hitters really have an advantage and let it fly."