Ubaldo Jimenez showing improvement for the Baltimore Orioles

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In yesterday’s 5-3 loss in Dunedin to Toronto, Ubaldo Jimenez turned in perhaps his best outing of the spring. First off, he became the first Baltimore Orioles pitcher to throw as many as four innings in Grapefruit League play. Jimenez’s line: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 K. As Jimenez told MASNsports’ Steve Melewski:

"“You know what, like I’ve said before, from the first day of spring training, I’ve never put that in my mind like you have to put up zeroes because you are competing. I’m doing the same thing I’ve been doing the last 13 spring trainings, counting the minor leagues, and that is getting myself ready for the season. That is the only thing I have in my mind: Do what you have to do to get ready for the season.”"

The numbers might be a bit deceiving, as Jimenez gave up three runs. However

Courtesy of Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

his mechanics were much stronger than in his previous outings. The one exception to that was his ability to hold runners on base, as Toronto seemed to steal and take bases at will against Jimenez. That’s something that’s going to have to change, especially if Jimenez wants to have a legitimate shot at being in the rotation on Opening Day.

Again folks, it’s not so much about the line score as it is the mechanics. Jimenez’s mechanics on the mound as were the crispness of his pitches. Overall, he was able to minimize damage. If this were a regular season game, it would be worth mentioning that he kept the O’s in the game in a sense. Furthermore keep in mind that he didn’t have the starting offense or defense behind him.

Caleb Joseph and Henry Urrutia, both of whom are having great springs, each had RBI-singles in the first inning which gave the O’s a 2-0 lead. However Daric Barton added one of his own, and Chris Dickerson gave Toronto a two-RBI double to take the lead for the Birds from north of the border. Toronto would add two more runs on a Danny Valencia RBI-single in the sixth, however the O’s would salvage one more run in the top of the ninth on Henry Urrutia’s RBI-single.

After two games on the road, the Orioles will be back in Sarasota this afternoon to take on their AL East rivals, the Tampa Rays – a game that will be shown on MASN. Buck Showalter is giving the start to Brian Matusz this afternoon, in a bit of a surprise move. Matusz you’ll remember was originally a starter, but has turned into a lefty specialist over the past couple of seasons.

So the question at hand so to speak is what exactly is being accomplished by starting Matusz? Contrary to what Showalter said last spring training, I would submit that the O’s don’t view Matusz as a starter. The starting rotation is already fairly crowded, and it goes without saying that someone is going to end up in the bullpen. So are the Orioles showcasing Matusz in an attempt to include him in a trade?

I would argue that Matusz has been good out of the bullpen, and that he could continue to play a strong role. But it goes without saying that the decision is out of my hands. Furthermore, if the return is good for the organization, one would be hard pressed not to pull the trigger. Matusz will be opposed today by Nathan Karns.

Next: Silver Lingings in Orioles' 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays

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