It’s incredibly difficult to put one’s finger on why there are some games in which teams struggle to score runs, and then in others they come in bunches. Many people callously say that the Baltimore Orioles can only score when they’re hitting the ball out of the ballpark. That might partially be true, however I would also submit that it’s somewhat overstated. One thing is certain however, and that’s the fact that you can’t win if you don’t put any runs on the board…
…and your starting pitching struggling certainly doesn’t help. Ubaldo Jimenez was roughly welcomed back to Progressive Field by Cleveland hitters who seemed to know what he was throwing before he did. Jimenez’s line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 5 K. Jimenez opened the game by walking the first two batters, the second of which came on a full count. And that right there set the tone for the game given the fact that Jimenez threw 33 pitches in the first inning.
Caleb Joseph also got crossed up with one down and two on in the first, which allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Carlos Santana sat on a fastball on 2-2, which is exactly what he got – and suddenly Cleveland had a 3-0 lead. And perhaps Jimenez and the Orioles allowed Cleveland to think backwards there a bit too much. A count like 2-2 will generally dictate that a fastball is coming. However with first base open, Jimenez didn’t necessarily have to throw a fastball. While you don’t want to load the bases if you can avoid it, the idea is to stay out of the big inning. (So if you load the bases you might have a possible double-play to end the inning.) Instead Santana hedged his bets that Jimenez would throw a fastball, and he was right.
In fairness to Jimenez, he did settle down after that first inning. In fact for awhile it seemed like all the Orioles had to do was put a few
runs on the board and they’d have a fighting chance. The O’s once again put up some poor numbers with runners in scoring position (0-for-4), however the fact is that they weren’t able to get any runners in scoring position nary a few times. That doesn’t make it easy to win games, and while Ubaldo Jimenez had his struggles it wouldn’t have really mattered anyways.
Cleveland added a Ramirez RBI-single in the fifth, along with a Jeff Brantley two-run homer to run the final score to 6-0. The one silver lining once again was the bullpen, which combined throw 3.2 innings giving up only three hits (spread over three relievers).
Showalter also alluded to the fact that Miguel Gonzalez would be available to make the start in Wednesday’s game against the ChiSox in Chicago, which is interesting. That would mean someone would have to come out of the rotation, either going to the DL, a trade, or someone being sent down. I do think it might be possible that the Orioles have a deal of sorts in the works for a starting pitcher. While I don’t know, it does seem reasonable that something might be in play if they’re looking at Gonzalez re-joining the team. It’s also worth mentioning that if a player (most probably a reliever) is optioned on Wednesday, they’d end up staying in the minors the necessary ten days before being eligible to come back up in September when rosters expand.
So if I’m off base and there’s no trade in the works, I could see someone like McFarland or even Brad Brach being sent down for a period, and Jimenez going to the bullpen. But time will tell. Quite a few fans tweeted me last night during the game suggesting that the Orioles should send Jimenez to the minor leagues. First off let me say that I understand the sentiment. However let me be clear; if they did that, Jimenez would have to clear waivers. That means that any other team would have the option of claiming him, While many people’s response to that is would that be such a bad thing?, what fans should know is that Jimenez would then be that team’s property and he’d still be on the Baltimore Orioles’ payroll for the final three years of his contract.That would be an incredibly poor decision from a business standpoint for the Orioles. So if the team appears stubborn in terms of not wanting to send Jimenez to the minors, that’s the reason why.
The Orioles will try to salvage one game this afternoon in Cleveland, with Kevin Gausman getting the start for the Birds. He’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, who’s never faced the Orioles. While pitchers that have never faced them have been able to shut them down in the past, you have to hope that the bats wake up a bit starting this afternoon.