There are few members of the Baltimore Orioles who have been as maligned as Ubaldo Jimenez the past few years. This is of course the fourth and final year of his contract, and most O’s fans would argue that to this point he hasn’t lived up to expectations. Fans looking at his line score from this afternoon probably would assume that he’s continuing to struggle. However look deeper and you might be surprised. Jimenez’s line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 5 K.
Jimenez gave up four runs with two outs, many of which coming off of balls that weren’t hit too hard. And that’s been a defect of the Orioles overall the past few years; teams can sometimes bleed them to death by a thousand cuts. Toroto got a two-RBI single and a two-RBI double in the fourth inning to take a 4-0 lead. In that sequence, only the two-RBI double (by Pillar) was a solidly hit ball. It also included a ball that was ruled a hit, but misplayed by catcher Caleb Joseph. The ball went almost straight up in the air, and fell near the mound as Joseph lost it in the sun.
And those are the breaks that you get when you’re bleeding someone to death by a thousand cuts. For his part, Jimenez felt that this outing was better than his last (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
Today was even better. After the first inning I was able to throw all my pitches. I was cruising along. I was attacking the hitters. The split, the slider, the changeup, every pitch was working to both sides until the last inning. We got in trouble a little bit.
The Orioles also got a solo home run out of Chris Davis in the last of the fourth, as well as an additional run on a passed ball. Toronto would add a sac fly-RBI in the eighth. Davis’ home run was his first of the spring, although his walks are way up – which is a good thing.
As I said above, Jimenez is a guy who’s been maligned frequently. He’s had his struggle for sure, however sometimes I do believe that some of the criticism is a bit over-the-top. He’s also had stretches were he’s been good. Look no further than last September, when he was the Orioles’ most consistent pitcher down the stretch in a playoff chase. He was also the winning pitcher in what amounted to a spot start on September 16, 2014 – the night the Orioles clinched the AL East pennant.
However up to this point I’ve also said that the Orioles couldn’t DFA Jimenez on occasions when fans have commented that they should. That would have entailed continuing to pay him, while he potentially pitched for another team. And that’s just poor business if you ask me. However as he enters the final year of his contract, I suspect that the Orioles have a bit more flexibility. If he struggles or becomes a liability, they might consider doing something like that. Granted he would still be collecting his salary from the Orioles and could in essence sign anywhere, but it would only be for the duration of this season. That’s a lot different than doing it with 2-3 years left on his contract.
The Orioles will remain in Sarasota, but won’t play again until tomorrow evening when Tampa comes to town. Chris Lee will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Chris Archer. Game time is set for just after 6 PM.