Has Ubaldo Jimenez found the spark that made his 2010 season so dazzling?
It's probably too early to make that claim, but in his last three outings -- coming against Kansas City, Oakland and Detroit -- the righty has gone 3-0 and compiled a 1.45 ERA. In a span of 18 2/3 innings, Jimenez has allowed just 10 hits and walked six batters. He's also struck out eight in back-to-back performances.
Jimenez will take the hill on Friday at Progressive Field against Mariners righty Brandon Maurer in the first of a four-game series. The Indians had a day off on Thursday, while Seattle wrapped up its three-game set at Yankee Stadium with a 3-2 victory to earn a series win.
"I've been able to go out there for the last three or four games and compete and give the team a chance to be close on the scoreboard," Jimenez said after limiting the Tigers to one run in his last outing. "I think it's all about my mechanics. The last three games I've been able to repeat my mechanics on every pitch."
Jimenez is 3-2 with a 5.55 ERA this season.
Maurer was in the Minor Leagues when Jimenez turned heads three years ago. After spending last year with Double-A Jackson, the 22-year-old rookie has seen seven starts as a member of Seattle's rotation this season. In that time, he has gone 2-5 with a 5.97 ERA.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge has taken many positives out of Maurer's development. On April 30, Maurer gave up four runs against Baltimore in the first frame but bounced back to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard in his final three innings of work.
"He had three good starts prior to this, so you have to take that into consideration," Wedge said then. "He had a tough night tonight, but I think he cleared another hurdle being able to right himself after getting off to the tough start. He can go home tonight feeling like he did do a better job than earlier in the year when he didn't get through it."
Mariners: Wilhelmsen a force on back end
• Closer Tom Wilhelmsen is 11-for-11 in save opportunities after walking a tight rope to nail down Wednesday's series finale in the Bronx. He carries a sterling 0.50 ERA and in 18 innings has struck out 13 while walking five. The righty has retired the first batter in each of his 17 appearances this season.
• The stop at Progressive Field is the middle leg of a three-city, nine-game road trip for Seattle. After four in Cleveland, the Mariners will play two in Anaheim before returning home.
Indians: Santana an all-around backstop
• Catchers who can make an impact at the plate as well as behind it are a desired commodity across baseball. Tribe manager Terry Francona recognizes that he's lucky enough to have one in Carlos Santana.
In addition to handling hurlers and blocking balls, Santana is hitting .319 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs. He also owns a .430 on-base percentage.
"He switch-hits, he hits for power, he takes walks," Francona said. "He is as a young catcher learning the responsibility of the importance of running a staff. To his credit, he is learning, and he's trying to learn. Sometimes it's a step forward and one back, but he's trying really hard, and we appreciate that."
• With their 10-4 win in Philadelphia on Wednesday, the Indians are 14-4 in the past 18 games.
• The two teams -- who have not faced each other in 2013 -- split the season series last year, 4-4.
• The Indians are 6-1 against the American League West, while the Mariners are 2-4 against the AL Central.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.