Many of Ubaldo Jimenez‘s detractors probably saw the first two pitches of last night’s game and immediately found doubt in their minds. Texas’ lead-off hitter, Shin-Soo Choo, got two balls well out of the strike zone to start off the game. However Jimenez buckled down and ended up striking Choo out. That was a harbinger of things to come for the Orioles’ pitcher. Jimenez’s line: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R (unearned), 1 BB, 7 K.
The Orioles jumped out to an early lead, thanks to Texas starter (and former Oriole) Joe Saunders walking Nick Markakis to lead off the game. Steve Pearce came to the plate, and on an 0-1 count smacked a home run deep to left field. Later in the inning Adam Jones got into the act with a solo shot, and the Baltimore Orioles led 3-0.
In theory that would have been all that Jimenez needed – heck, two runs would have done the trick. But the O’s did something they hadn’t done for Jimenez all season long: they scored runs on his behalf. J.J. Hardy joined the homer parade in the last of the second with a solo shot of his own, and perhaps the coup de grace for Texas was Steve Pearce’s second two-run home run of the game in the fourth.
With Manny Machado sitting until Saturday as he serves his five-game suspension, the O’s moved Chris Davis across the diamond to guard the hot corner. For the most part, Davis was pretty good at third. It’s unclear if that’s going to be the plan for the remainder of the week, however that was the plan last night. Texas was able to narrow the Orioles’ lead to 6-1 on a throwing error by Davis at third which appeared to bring first baseman Steve Pearce off the bag (according to umpire Laz Diaz). Buck Showalter came out and spoke to Diaz, but opted not to challenge the call. Replays seemed to indicate that Showalter would have had a legitimate challenge; my personal opinion was that he held the bag. However no challenge was made, and we played on.
The Orioles would tack on another run in the last of the inning on a Caleb Joseph sac fly-RBI, to run the final score to 7-1. There’s not much ill anyone can say of Ubaldo Jimenez on this night, as he left to a standing ovation from the Camden Yards faithful. The Orioles made a roster move prior to the game and called up Ramon Ramirez from triple-A Norfolk (optioning Evan Meek). Ramirez didn’t arrive at Camden Yards until approximately 8:30 PM, and had barely greeted his new teammates when he was called upon to close out the game in the ninth inning (in a non-save situation).
Here’s the kicker on Ramirez: Buck Showalter said after the game that he didn’t even have the opportunity to introduce himself to Ramirez until after the game. That’s how it goes sometimes I guess. Jimenez’s efforts will be very well received tonight, as the Orioles will summon T.J. McFarland out of the bullpen to make a spot start. With Bud Norris on the DL the days off didn’t shake down properly for the Orioles to be able to cover themselves in terms of starters. Anything is possible of course, but keep in mind that most of the time when a reliever makes a spot start he’s generally unable to go overly deep into the game. I suspect that if the Orioles can get McFarland past the fifth inning tonight, they’d be satisfied with that. McFarland will be opposed by Nick Martinez.