Ubaldo Jimenez had his struggles in last night’s 4-0 loss to Toronto. However the fact is that he was leaps and bounds better than he had been of late. Not only does he probably go down as a hard luck loser, but statistically he managed to register the fifth consecutive quality start for the Baltimore Orioles. Jimenez’s line: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 2 K.
As Buck Showalter pointed out after the game, the five walks took Jimenez’s pitch count up a few pegs.
Unfortunately Oriole bats were facing a pitcher in Drew Hutchinson who managed to shut them down last night – but not totally. The O’s had nine hits in the game; they just couldn’t bring any of them home. Many fans I suspect will point to a sequence in the last of the fourth with Adam Jones on second base with one out as a key moment. Nelson Cruz hit a grounder to the hole at short, and Jones was thrown out at third base trying to advance. As a general rule for runners on second, they’re taught to run only on balls hit to their left. So this was a base running mistake on Jones’ part – one that I’m sure he would freely admit to if asked.
It’s a tough sell to argue that Jones would have scored on J.J. Hardy‘s subsequent single to shallow center, however I suspect he probably would have. Had he still been on second base there would have been two outs and he would have run on contact. However let’s also keep in mind that this is a team game,and that’s far from the only opportunity the Baltimore Orioles had in the game. Later in the inning they actually had the bases loaded after Manny Machado‘s infield single, and Jonathan Schoop popped out to end the inning.
One of Jimenez’s walks came in the second inning when he issued Brett Lawrie a free pass. That brought Juan Francisco to the plate, and his two-run homer gave Toronto a 2-0 lead. Nothing good happens after a walk, remember? As I said, the O’s had their chances at various points, including in the last of the seventh when J.J. Hardy led off with a double down the left field line. With thunder and lightning coming quickly into the area and rumbling in the distance, the Orioles recorded three quick outs and stranded Hardy at second.
The skies opened up following the 8th inning, making for the Orioles’ fourth rain delay in five games. However this one was only 21 minutes long before play resumed. Buck Showalter opted to keep Tommy Hunter (who had replaced Jimenez after the sixth inning) in the game, and following a walk and an error (on Jonathan Schoop) Hunter had runners at the corners with nobody down. Hunter then proceeded to throw a wild pitch which allowed a run to cross the plate, and Jose Bautista would add an RBI-single to run the score to a final of 4-0.
Had I been Buck Showalter, I might have considered using another pitcher following the rain delay simply because delays as such can often wear on a pitcher. However ultimately all things being the same it would have made little difference given the fact that the Orioles were shut out. As I said above, the Birds had nine hits in the game – to only four (plus six walks) for Toronto. The O’s were only 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position (the one being an infield single on which nobody was able to score). So they got them on, but they just need to work on getting them in.
The series continues today with a late afternoon matinee at Camden Yards; game time is set for 4 PM. Bud Norris will get the start for the Orioles. This is a game we might want to circle and/or keep in the back of our heads for the next few days. Norris will be opposed by knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of Toronto. Granted the O’s have had varying degrees of success against Dickey in the past, however they say that sometimes it takes up to a week to get your timing back after facing a knuckleballer. For the Orioles’ sake, one hopes there’s little lingering affect from that moving forward.