Baltimore Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez, power rule the yard

Many Baltimore Orioles fans walked into Camden Yards yesterday afternoon wondering what they’d get out of Ubaldo Jimenez. Of course Jimenez was re-entering the rotation after spending roughly a month in the bullpen after being ineffective as a starter. What they got was a version of Jimenez that was worthy of a standing ovation coming off the field in the seventh inning. Jimenez’s line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

With the exception of two solo homers, Jimenez shut down everything that St. Louis threw up against him. And solo homers, Seth Smith led the game off for the O’s with one in the last of the first. But solo homers won’t necessarily beat you – unless you allow them to. St. Louis did, and the Orioles didn’t. St. Louis would tie the game with a solo shot off of Piscotty’s bat one inning later – but that’s as close as they got…

…because in the last of the second Trey Mancini‘s solo homer gave the O’s the lead back. One inning later, Mark Trumbo chimed in with an RBI-single which extended the lead to 3-1. However I supposed that the only hitter with whom Jimenez struggled was Piscotty, as he smacked his second solo homer in the top of the fourth.

However the fifth inning was the coup de grace, both for the game and the series. Following an Adam Jones lead off triple, Trumbo came back to the plate, and sent a high fly ball towards left. And when I say high, I mean high – it looked like a golf shot up on the green. And it landed in the third row for a two-run homer, giving the Birds a 5-2 lead.

Schoop would add a sac-fly RBI later in the inning, and then Castillo an additional two-run homer in that fifth inning. One inning later Manny Machado‘s RBI-single ran the tally to 8-2. The O’s were in the driver’s seat, and Jimenez was dealing. And as I said above, when he completed the seventh inning at well over 100 pitches, the Camden faithful gave him a standing ovation as he came off the field.

After Jimenez left the game however, St. Louis made an attempt to get back into the game. Fowler smacked a two-run homer in the eighth, and Molina a solo shot. That brought them to within 8-5, however Brad Brach shut St. Louis down quickly in the ninth, and the Birds went home with a game and a series victory.

This was a classic Camden Yards game in which the ball was flying – and by flying I mean high and deep. Perhaps more than anything else, this game should show why the Orioles can’t consistently play small ball the way that some fans seem to think they can or should.

Granted St. Louis isn’t an AL East team (or even an American League team for that matter), however you win games in the AL East via the long ball. That’s what Camden Yards was built for, and that’s true of most of the other ballparks around the division. Now it goes without saying that you aren’t always going to have home runs at your disposal, however power should be the bread and butter of an American League East offense. (And when I say power, I mean more than just home runs; the Orioles hit two triples yesterday as well.)

And of course in yesterday’s game the other factor was Jimenez. He may have turned in his most successful outing in almost two years for the Birds. His next task is to continue on that path, which is easier said than done. But he was incredibly good against a fairly potent lineup yesterday, which is a good sign.

The one concerning thing from yesterday’s game was J.J. Hardy leaving the game after being hit on the wrist. He got an x-ray, and the Orioles apparently saw something concerning on the results. Nothing official yet, however it does appear that he’ll be headed to the already crowded DL.

The Orioles now open a four-game series with Cleveland at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Corey Kluber. Game time is set for just after 7 PM this evening.

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