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Ubaldo set for Sunday finale, Wild Card Game

Ubaldo set for Sunday finale, Wild Card Game


CLEVELAND -- There is a chance that the Indians' fate for the postseason will come down to the final game of the regular season. If that is the case, Cleveland plans on handing the ball to Ubaldo Jimenez for that Sunday road start in Minnesota.

The Tribe is not thinking ahead to a potential tiebreaker situation or an American League Wild Card Game.

"We're not there," Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to Wednesday's game against the White Sox. "We need to win tonight. That's the mentality we've had all along. And I think by getting out of that, if I start doing that, it's hard to ask the players [not] to do it."

Cleveland does have a contingency plan in place, though.

If the Indians clinch a spot in the postseason prior to Sunday -- the Tribe held a one-game lead over Texas for the second Wild Card heading into Wednesday's play -- Jimenez would be pushed back and made available for the Wild Card game on Oct. 2. The idea of pitching in that one-game playoff for the right to play in the AL Division Series brought a smile to Jimenez's face.

"Of course. It's a big game," Jimenez said. "The first thing we have to think about is making it, getting there. If they need me to be there the last game, of course I'd be happy to do that, too. It's all about doing anything to get there first."

As things currently stand, Cleveland's rotation for the upcoming four-game series will be Zach McAllister (Thursday), Corey Kluber (Friday), Scott Kazmir (Saturday) and Jimenez (Sunday).

Jimenez logged 6 1/3 innings and picked up a no-decision in Tuesday's 5-4 win over the White Sox, allowing two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. The right-hander has a 1.04 ERA in September, a 1.86 ERA in the second half, a 2.47 ERA since May 27 and a 2.66 ERA since April 29 for the Tribe.

While with the Rockies in 2007, Jimenez pitched the final game of the regular season against the D-backs, giving up just one run on one hit with 10 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings to help Colorado to a critical win. That helped the Rockies force a tiebreaker game with the Padres to earn a place in the postseason.

Colorado did indeed advance, but whether Matt Holliday touched home plate on the final play of Game No. 163 is something that has always been a topic of debate.

"He was safe, OK?" Jimenez said with a grin.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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