Ubaldo Jimenez (31) and catcher Caleb Joseph (36) wait during a replay in the fifth inning against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field Thursday. Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sportsw

Orioles’ 9th inning implosion spoils Jimenez’s gem


After losses such as this, in a fair world, one would be allowed to save up the words and wait until tomorrow, so that nothing is written in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

It is an effort to be fair to Tommy Hunter after tonight’s defeat. This was eerily similar to what happened Saturday night, when Houston scored twice off him in the 9th to take the lead.

On this occasion, he also hit too many bats to win. In addition to Miguel Cabrera‘s 3-run, go-ahead homer into the bullpen, and Victor Martinez‘s follow-up shot onto Eutaw Street, the first two outs of the top of the 9th inning were line drives, one a lazy looper to shortstop, and one a well-hit drive that Adam Jones ran down.

Hunter lives too dangerously, and tonight it bit him again, and the Baltimore Orioles lost a heartbreaking, 4-1 game. He has allowed 23 hits and five walks in 15 innings worked over 17 games this season.

But the fair and balanced part goes something like this. The Orioles didn’t score enough runs. One more than the other team is enough based on track record, and that’s what they had until the 9th inning. An accumulation of missed opportunities was just as costly in the long run to this game as it was in Monday night’s loss, or most other losses recently, other than the team’s recent, 5-game winning streak, which put them in first place by a game and a half.

Losses by the Orioles’ pursuers will keep them there again. The Yankees lost their fourth straight tonight and fell to 19-19,  joining a three-way tie for second place, with all three teams at .500. But as Carly Simon once sang, there’s something wrong here, there can be no denying. The Orioles hurt themselves too often with anxious, selfish at-bats with runners on base, even though you could always say that’s just good pitching by the opposing team.

Drew Smyly matched Ubaldo Jimenez‘s sterling performance with one of his own, the one exception being Adam Jones‘ screaming liner that just got over the left field wall in the first inning.

Not to give short shrift to the other bright spot, catcher Caleb Joseph stole the show, getting his first Major League hit and throwing out two base runners, which would have been three if a replay review had not overturned one. Rajai Davis appeared out at second on his attempted steal as a pinch-runner with none out in the fateful 9th. But a replay overturned the call, and Torii Hunter walked to bring up Cabrera.

Now, the expected hue and cry will rise for manager Buck Showalter to replace Hunter as closer. The only thing he would commit to after the game was that adjustments would be made if necessary to make the team competitive. Showalter has never been, and still is not, the type to name names while on camera. To summarize Hunter’s remarks, they were what we already knew – that he hated to lose, and that you can’t hit that many bats in a save situation. He couldn’t say much more than the fairly obvious.

As the saying goes, the sun will come up tomorrow. Kevin Gausman has been summoned from Norfolk to face Justin Verlander in the day game to close out the series and the homestand.

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  • Dave Gruber

    Anybody who has followed the O’s the past two seasons should’ve seen this coming. Tommy Hunter has been among the leaders, if not the leader, in HRs allowed per 9 innings in all MLB the past two seasons. I’m sure he’s a great teammate and a great guy and all that good stuff but he is not a closer. After his outing last night his ERA is now 6.60. The O’s have three pitchers on their 40 man roster with higher ERAs. They are Evan Meek, Josh Stinson and Brad Brach. They all have one thing in common, they’re pitching for Norfolk now. Meanwhile Britton and O’Day both have sub zero ERAs but Buck continues to send Tommy out there. Here’s my suggestion. If Gausman does well enough to stay in the rotation I think they should try Gonzalez in the closer role. He has a history of being very effective for about 5 innings or so, as a closer you only need to be effective for one. I. Hope for the sake of the O’s Buck gives him a chance.