Baltimore Orioles fall in Beantown amid controversy


Ubaldo Jimenez had gotten the Baltimore Orioles off to a very good start in last night’s game. In fact, he nary gave up a hit in a game that was destined to be a pitchers duel – although one that the Orioles’ starter would be destined to watch mostly from the clubhouse. Jimenez’s line: 3.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K. While Jimenez fell behind in a few counts over the course of his outing, he managed to get Boston hitters to put the ball in play consistently and netted outs for the O’s.

The Birds covered the corners in the top of the fourth following back-to-back singles by Travis Snider and Adam Jones. The Orioles would take a 1-0 lead after Snider scored on Chris Davis’ groundball double-play. An inning later Caleb Joseph smacked what looked to be a pop fly towards the Pesky Pole in right field at Fenway. Shane Victorino gave chase, however the ball wrapped itself around the pole for a homer, giving the O’s a 2-0 advantage.

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Following Jimenez’s departure in the fourth inning, Buck Showalter brought in Kevin Gausman, who proceeded to give up a two-run home run over the green monster to Ryan Hannigan which tied the game. And we played on, in game that looked to be destined for extra innings. However with a runner at second and one out in the last of the ninth, Xander Bogaerts blooped a single into shallow right field. It fell just out of the reach of Travis Snider, scoring Mike Napoli to hand to O’s a 3-2 loss.

As I inferred above, Ubaldo Jimenez saw much of this game from the showers. With two outs in the last of the fourth inning, he faced Pablo Sandoval for the second time. Jimenez’s first pitch hit the Boston third baseman in the right shoulder. However before Sandoval could run to first base or anyone else could react to anything, home plate umpire Jordan Baker decided to inject himself into the outcome of the game…

…which is a big no-no for umpires. Baker interpreted Jimenez as having hit

Courtesy of Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Sandoval intentionally, and he promptly ejected Jimenez. Ironically, the two people who looked more surprised than anyone was Jimenez and Pablo Sandoval – who was about to just walk to first base and take his spot. Catcher Caleb Joseph immdiately gave protest, and manager Buck Showalter came out and continued that conversation. However Baker was emphatic in his decision, and Jimenez was gone.

First off, let there be no mistake made about the fact that an umpire can eject a pitcher at his discretion if he feels that the pitcher hit a batter on purpose. So please bear in mind that Baker was well within his right to throw Jimenez out of the game. However it’s incredibly rare that we see a pitcher tossed in that manner – without there having been a prior incident, an Oriole batter hit, and especially a warning issued. (As soon as he ejected Jimenez, Baker issued a warning to the Boston bench against retaliation.) The move caught everyone off guard, which is why it looked all the more bizzare.

There was speculation that the ejection came from Sandoval having gone hard into second base in the second inning against Jonathan Schoop. But I would submit that using that as a reason is a reach – Buck Showalter said after the game that the Orioles weren’t miffed by that. (Although having said that, perhaps Baker

Courtesy of Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

himself felt that Sandoval’s take out slide was too hard…?)

After the game, Buck Showalter seemd to indicate to MASNsports‘ Roch Kubatko that his hope was that MLB would review the situation and try to prevent it from occurring again:

"MLB will look at it and hopefully take some action to make sure it didn’t happen again, something like that impact the game that much. It’s sad that it did. My biggest thing is the bullpen and what we had to do there. Everybody aspires to play that game. We welcome it. We do it. We applaud people that do it. That’s the way you want the game played. Every time somebody gets hit with a pitch, it’s not intentional. And every time somebody slides hard, that’s what you’re supposed to do. Nobody gets mad. A lot of times you say, ‘I know what it looks like,’ but this time, no, not at all."

I would disagree with Showalter just a bit in that it didn’t look like Jimenez was trying to hit Sandoval intentionally at all. Of course the only person who really knows that for sure is Jimenez, but he seemed more shocked than anyone at his first career ejection. The Fenway Park crowd seemed to not know whether to cheer an opposing pitcher being thrown out, or feel badly for Jimenez when he walked off.

That aside, that will have ripple effects on the Orioles for the next few days given the fact that the bullpen was used much more often than was originally planned. Showalter even indicated that they were mulling the idea of calling up another reliever for today’s game – if that happens we’ll find out about it later on. Jordan Baker would probably say that Showalter and Jimenez should have thought about that before Jimenez plunked Pablo Sandoval. And the response would be that it wasn’t anyone’s idea that it happened to begin with.

The series continues this afternoon with a late afternoon 4 PM start at Fenway Park. Chris Tillman will make his third start of the season, and he’ll be opposed by Clay Bucholtz of Boston.

Next: LIVE COVERAGE: Baltimore Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Joe Kelly