Tagged: Ubaldo Jimenez

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.

Baltimore Orioles: Don’t blame Ubaldo Jimenez for loss to Boston

Ubaldo Jimenez saw action in last nights game for the Baltimore Orioles; for the first time since Sunday. Jimenez surrendered two runs, immediately drawing the ire of an Orioles’ fanbase that ran out of patience with him long ago. All in all for that reason, he seemed to be the perfect scapegoat for the Birds’ 5-2 loss. But is that really fair?

Dylan Bundy was fairly effective last night, however he exited after only five innings due to a triple-digit pitch count. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K. The two runs that he gave up came on a fourth inning home run by Ramirez, which gave Boston a 2-0 lead.

Boston hitters fouled off a lot of pitches in this game, which drove Bundy’s pitch count up. There were several hitters who had seven or eight-pitch at-bats. This has been a problem for Oriole pitchers all year, and it’s tough to put a finger on why that is. Certainly in some manner you have to tip your cap to opposing hitters because they’re zeroed in at the plate trying to get a base hit. But…why does it keep happening?

My personal theory is that a lot of teams are trying to take what the defense is giving the in a sense, as opposed to always trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark. While they haven’t hit-for-power too much this year, Boston’s a power-slugging team just like the Orioles. So whereas if a pitch is slightly off, the Orioles are more likely to let it go by – because it’s not a home run pitch. However other teams are trying to foul that pitch off and protect the plate (with two strikes of course) because they’re just trying to get on base.

Either way, Oriole pitchers end up getting their pitch counts elevated, and the bullpen has to enter much earlier than otherwise. In this case however the O’s were able to cut the lead in half in the seventh, with a home run off the bat of Manny Machado. Then Jimenez came in to pitch the bottom of the inning…

…and Boston tacked on two additional runs. Bogaerts scored a run reaching on a fielder’s choice, and Ramirez smacked an RBI-double to left. Boston would tack on an additional run in the ninth (against Hart) on a Betts RBI-single. Mancini would drive a run in on an RBI-double in the ninth, however that’s as close as the Orioles could get and they fell by the aforementioned score of 5-2.

My aim here isn’t to defend Jimenez until the cows come home. He’s obviously responsible for those two runs, and they didn’t help matters. My point has always been that when the calls for DFA him now start coming up I think a lot of people don’t realize what that means. The Orioles would be paying Jimenez essentially NOT to play for them. Any other team could then pick him up, again on the Orioles’ dime.

There’s one proviso to that in a sense; if nobody claims him after ten days, he could opt to stay in the Orioles’ system and go to the minors. But someone would pick him up. And the next response is well I’d love to see Ubaldo pitch against the Orioles. Please folks, do you not know what the law of averages says about how that story ends?

Mind you that Jimenez was coming off of a pretty decent outing on Sunday in Houston. It’s easy to suggest that if not for Jimenez the game would have been tied with the run in the ninth inning. But Boston scored a fifth run off of Hart in the ninth as well. So are we saying all things being equal except the additional run that was scored while Ubaldo was on the bench, and the game would have been tied?

My point is that this game was lost because Boston’s Price was in the zone all night, and Oriole bats couldn’t figure him out. NOT because Jimenez gave up two runs in the seventh inning. If the O’s had the lead or the game had been tied, that might be a different story.

One positive spin was that the O’s forced Boston’s hand in bringing their closer, Kimbrell, in during the eighth inning. All in all after a laborious ninth inning, he threw north of thirty pitches – a lot for a closer. So would Kimbrell in theory not be available today if needed? Interesting question. However while I suspect they’d use him if they were in a save situation (because they’re off on Monday), the question is how effective would he be?  Either way, the Orioles may have helped themselves out for today’s game by making him work.

The series concludes this afternoon at Camden Yards. Chris Tillman will be on the mound for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Boston’s Chris Sale. Game time is set for just after 1:30 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez saves the pen in loss

Ubaldo Jimenez did a huge service to the Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen yesterday with his performance. And yes, there is some irony in the fact that this was to be Jimenez’s normal turn in the rotation, had he not been demoted to the bullpen. Instead the Birds turned to Alec Asher, who didn’t last long. Asher’s line: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

The Orioles actually had a 3-0 lead in this game, which if you look at the box score lasted about as long as it took Houston to go through the batting order once. After everyone got a look at Asher, they seemed to figure him out. But the Birds got a two-run homer from Jonathan Schoop in the first to take a 2-0 lead.

Schoop would come to bat again in the second inning and smack an RBI-single to make it 3-0. The O’s looked like they were off to the races, and ready to break their six-game losing streak. However that second inning overall cost the Orioles the game. The O’s loaded the bases and had seven men come to the plate – yet they only scored one run.

They also say that your enemies get fat on what you leave behind. In the last of the second, Asher issued a lead off single. He then proceeded to have Beltran right where he wanted him in the next at-bat at 0-2. But Beltran wasn’t about to get cheated, and ended up drawing a walk. Singles and/or walks are easily fixable in the minds of the Orioles because a ground ball double-play is in order. But it’s also exactly what a small ball team like Houston covets, because every base runner is a potential run.

Asher would proceed to strike out Gattis, but the pitch got away and ended up a wild pitch. The two runners on base both advanced into scoring position, and would score on Gonzalez’s subsequent two-RBI double. Gurriel’s RBI-double a moment later would tie the game, and Houston took a 5-3 lead on Springer’s two-run homer.

Before the smoke cleared in that second inning, it was 6-3 on Altuve’s RBI-single. Mind you, the Orioles had an opportunity to blow the game wide open. But the Orioles aren’t hitting-for-power right now – and incidentally, Minute Maid Park has always been a house of horrors for this team. The Birds couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity that they had, and Houston was happy to oblige instead.

That inning ended Asher’s day, and the Orioles turned back to Jimenez, who appeared to get out of the third inning unscathed after a 1-4-3 double-play. But Houston challenged that the runner was out at second base, and the call was overturned. Again, Houston seems to take advantage of every opportunity it gets. Gurriel smacked an RBI-single to run the score to 7-3.

Later in the inning, Jimenez uncorked a wild pitch which scored a run and suddenly it was 8-3. However while that was ruled a wild pitch, to me it was one that the catcher Castillo should have gotten and smothered. It went right between his legs.

Other than that, Jimenez was solid. And he completed the remainder of the game for the Orioles, saving the rest of the bullpen. That shouldn’t go unnoticed. The Birds had to fly back to Baltimore last night, and they have an afternoon game against the NY Yankees today at Camden Yards – so a quick turnaround. Had this been a game where they had to use three or four relievers (even in a winning effort), they might have had to make a roster move before today’s game.

Incidentally, Mark Trumbo smacked a solo homer in the eighth to make the final score 8-4. It’s worth mentioning that just prior to that home run Manny Machado was rung up on a 3-2 pitch that was clearly off the plate. So all things being the same (and yes that’s a tough sell especially given that the pitcher would have been working out of the stretch with a runner on base) that should have brought the Orioles to 8-5. And you never know what happens from there.

The Orioles are obviously struggling right now, but it seems like every year right around May or June they go into a tailspin. At some point they always right the ship. So am I telling fans not to worry? It’s fine to be concerned, because they always right the ship…until they don’t, I suppose. But the track record of these players indicates that they will. So in a sense, yes I’m saying not to worry – too much, at least.

The O’s now open a three-game set at home against New York on this Memorial Day. Dylan Bundy will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Jordan Montgomery. Game time is set for just after 1 PM this afternoon.

Baltimore Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez struggles again

The chorus of fans calling for the Baltimore Orioles to release Ubaldo Jimenez grew louder during and after last night’s 14-7 loss to Minnesota. Jimenez’s line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K. Jimenez seemingly pitched from behind in almost every count. The outs that he did record were a struggle.

However the most incriminating part was that he gave up a five-run lead. An RBI-double by Mancini and an RBI-single by Hardy in the second inning got things started. It appeared that the Orioles were heading in the right direction. Adam Jones then followed with a three-run homer later in the inning. That was his 125th career home run at Camden Yards, which makes him the ballpark’s new leader.

However Minnesota started to chip away at an Orioles lead they would eventually overtake. Mauer grounded into an out which scored a run in the third, and Kepler’s solo homer in the fourth cut the lead to 5-2. But it looked as if the Birds were going to keep tacking runs on as well, as Machado’s RBI-double in the last of the fourth ran the score to 6-2.

However Jimenez loaded the bases in the fifth with nobody out, and after Minnesota scored two runs in the inning he was removed. Minnesota would go on to put up four runs in that fifth inning, and when the smoke cleared the game was tied. The question is whether or not this was Jimenez’s last start. Time will tell.

In fairness to Jimenez, Minnesota didn’t let up once they got going. Many fans are going to say that Jimenez gave them confidence and so forth – maybe they’re right for all I know. But I think it would be different if the deluge of runs had ceased once Jimenez left the game. If anything, it got worse.

Minnesota put up six runs in the sixth, and then two more in the ninth on a two-run homer. The O’s did get one back in the last of the ninth on an RBI-single by Joseph. But the fact is that Minnesota hitters were just seeing the ball very well last night. Was Jimenez good? Not in the least. But again, had Minnesota been shut down immediately after he left the game, it would be different.

You can’t blame Jimenez for the six-run fifth, which in my view broke the Orioles’ back. You can’t blame him for the fact that one of those runs scored on a balk when Crichton fell off the mound as he was winding up. Yes, he needed to exit the game when he did – there’s no question. But let’s be fair about critiquing him; furthermore, the fact that Oriole bats went to sleep after he left isn’t something that attributable to him.

Am I saying that Jimenez isn’t struggling mightily? No, because he is. And that would need to change for him to stay in the rotation. I’m merely saying that it’s never one person’s sole fault that a team wins or loses. Put blame where blame is due – but not blame that doesn’t befit that person.

So…should the Orioles remove Jimenez from the rotation? The first question is with whom do they replace him? I suspect Asher might be the answer if that route is taken and Jimenez is sent to the bullpen. Another option is for them to defer the decision and simply skip Jimenez in his next turn in the rotation. The O’s have an off day Thursday, so that’s a possibility. In the mean time he could work long relief out of the bullpen and give the O’s an additional arm out there. My personal opinion is that this is the best option. (The fringe option would be that they could invent an injury and send him to the DL.)

The one option that the Orioles shouldn’t consider is DFAing him or outright releasing him. As I’ve said many times, the Birds are on the hook for his salary whether they like it or not. It would be an incredibly poor decision from a business standpoint for the to decide to cut him and be forced to continue paying his salary. Worse yet, someone else would have the option of picking him up – on the Orioles’ dime.

The Orioles will try to even the series tonight at Camden Yards. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Minnesota’s Ervin Santana. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles, Ubaldo Jimenez fall in Detroit

The bad news for the Baltimore Orioles is that they fell in Detroit last night behind Ubaldo Jimenez, who only went five innings. Jimenez’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 5 K. However if there’s a sliver lining, it’s that the Birds only used one reliever (Blier) who pitched in Tuesday’s marathon game. And he only pitched a third of an inning.

Obviously coming into last night the bullpen was a concern, which is why the Birds called up two new relievers. However it was also a concern going into today, because the series finale in Detroit is a day game – quick turnaround. “Sleep fast,” as Showalter always says.

The O’s took a 1-0 lead in the second when Hardy grounded into a force out with the bases loaded which scored a run. However Detroit immediately tied the game back up when Collins smacked a solo homer. He was previous 0-for-30 in his last 30 at-bats. Detroit would take a 2-1 later in the inning on Kinsler’s RBI-single.

The O’s made a run of things in the fourth however on an RBI-single by Welington Castillo which tied the game. Mancini would give the Birds the lead back with a sac fly-RBI later in the inning,  and they took a 4-2 lead in the fifth on Trumbo’s RBI-double. The Orioles’ offense seemed to be clicking, and in fact Jimenez seemed to get some momentum going in the fourth (following full counts on three of the first four hitters in the game).

But Collins had Jimenez’s number last night. As I said, he was previously 0-for-his last-30 coming into the game; and he used Jimenez as his slump-buster. He came up with two on in the last of the fifth, and promptly hit his second home run of the game, this one of the three-run variety. That was the fatal blow, and the Birds fell 5-4.

Jimenez admitted after the game that he hung both pitches to Collins which resulted in home runs (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

The frustration is I left two hanging pitches. It doesn’t matter who hit them. I made two bad pitches and he had a good night. I mean, it’s one of those things where it doesn’t matter what kind of numbers you have. That’s baseball. If you’re going to have a good night, that’s the way it is.

But keep in mind that the game itself is based on failure. In that case it was Jimenez who screwed up – and the hitter took advantage of that failure. If the hitter fails to see the ball properly, if his timing is off, or if he flat out whiffs, it’s the pitcher taking advantage of that failure. The line between success and paydirt in Major League Baseball can be very fine.

Manny Machado took what technically was a swinging third strike to end the game, on a pitch that was appealed to the first base umpire. Replays seemed to clearly show that he didn’t offer, as the bat never got close to the strike zone. The frustrating thing was that the O’s had the tying run at third, and the go-ahead run on base. Machado can expect to get an equipment fine for throwing his helmet in digust after the call, however the frustration was justified in that moment.

The series concludes today at Comerica Park with a getaway day matinee. Dylan Bundy will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Jordan Zimmerman. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

Baltimore Orioles, Ubaldo Jimenez bounce back strong in win

Tuesday was a trying night for the Baltimore Orioles, just as the first couple of starts had been trying for Ubaldo Jimenez. However last night we saw what bouncing back looks like on all accounts, as Jimenez pitched a gem that was won by the Orioles. Jimenez’s line: 7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K.

Jimenez went deeper than any other Orioles’ starter into a game thus far in 2017. Heck, he even registered a base hit late in the game, the 34th of his career! When you’re an American League pitcher and you’ve retired almost everyone who’s come up to face you AND you get a base hit (in an interleague game), you know things are running smoothly. Buck Showalter mentioned after the game that he felt Jimenez had all of his pitches working for him and hitting their spots (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

He filled up the bottom of the zone tonight. Had enough secondary pitches working for him. I thought Welington was good with him. With a lot of catchers you can be good when you have those things at your disposal. I thought his tempo, a lot of ground balls, a lot of pretty good plays made behind him because guys were engaged in the game.

We’ve seen Jimenez be this good in the past at times, and there’s no doubt he’s tough to beat when that happens. Ironically however, the Orioles scored more runs (three) in a loss on Tuesday than they did in a win last night. However the fact is that they would have only needed one run at the end of the day.

Schoop smacked an RBI-single in the second inning, however the Orioles also left the bases loaded. But keep in mind that this is the National League, where small ball rules supreme. One run is a victory, no matter how small.

Machado added a sac fly-RBI in the fifth to close out the scoring. Again, no one run is too small not to put across in a small ball situation. In a way that’s somewhat endearing – because “it’s supposed to be the small things in life,” right?! But to a power-hitting team like the Orioles, that’s a tough and frustrating game to play.

Ironically, I prefer the National League game only for the fact that the pitchers hit. I’ve always said that pitchers should be held as much in accountability for offensive output as anyone else. I’m not naive however; I recognize that no pitcher is going to be feared per se at the plate. So then it introduces more strategy in terms of moving guys over, double-switches, etc. It also makes the use of the bullpen more strategic.

And Jimenez illustrated perfectly what I’m saying last night, as he recorded the aforementioned base hit. Nobody was on and at the end of the day the inning ended in a double-play, however Jimenez is on the scorecard as having reached on a base hit. I’m in favor of MLB streamlining the rules between the leagues, for the record. However my version of that would be the elmination of the DH in the American League.

The series concludes this evening at the Great American Ball Park, after which the Orioles will mercifully head home. Wade Miley will be on the mound for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by former Oriole Scott Feldman. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Sister cities connected by the railroad

The Baltimore Orioles head to Cincinnati this evening for a three-game series. This will not only be the Orioles’ first foray into Interleague play this season, but also their first step outside the division. Given that they’ll play by National League rules, the Birds will have to surrender their DH this evening and starter Ubaldo Jimenez will have to swing the bat.

Baltimore and Cincinnati have special places in history, but not for reasons that you might think. Certainly the 1970 World Series comes to mind, when the Birds defeated the “Big Red Machine.” You could also look to the NFL where the Ravens play the Bengals twice a year, but that’s not what I mean either.

As we know, Oriole Park at Camden Yards’ crowing feature is the B & O Warehouse on Eutaw St. The Warehouse of course is the former terminal for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and it began being built in 1899. The final sections were built around 1905 or so, and it was in use until the 1960’s. Since 1992 when the ballpark opened, it’s housed the Orioles’ team offices, stadium store, etc.

This isn’t news to Orioles fans. But have any of you ever heard of Longworth Hall? You can click on the link I provided, but I would encourage you to click on images from a simple google search of the building first. Trust me, you’ll do a double-take when you see what comes up, and you’ll have to pinch yourself not to think you’re looking at Baltimore’s B & O Warehouse.

Longworth Hall is the Warehouse’s “sister building” in a sense. Whereas the Warehouse in Baltimore was the “Baltimore terminus” of the B & O Railroad, Longworth Hall was the “Ohio Terminus.” Here’s a fun fact about me, I’m somewhat OCD when it comes to uniformity. So in my mind it makes total sense and I can actually rest easy knowing that both ends of this very important railroad in American history are bookended by what in essence could be the same building.

The buildings are uncannily similar but not identical, and in fact my understanding is that Longworth Hall is actually bigger than Baltimore’s Warehouse. And whereas Baltimore’s used the Warehouse as a centerpiece for “The Ballpark that forever Changed Baseball,” Cincinnati is using Longworth Hall as part of a condo and commerce project in their downtown area.

In essence, both cities use the buildings as a tip of the cap to the past while creating a modern downtown atmosphere, albeit for different reasons. Longworth Hall was at risk for demolition as recently as 2012, however that would apparently only happen if the owners of the building (the family of Nicholas Longworth, the original owner) decide to sell it.

So in this sense, Baltimore and Cincinnati are forever linked together in history. Most people know of the B & O Warehouse, mainly because of Camden Yards. However Longworth Hall served the exact same purpose, on the other side of the same original railroad that we know. And again, I encourage you to google Longworth Hall and pull up images on the google search – you’ll have to tell yourself time and time again that you aren’t looking at the Warehouse in Baltimore.

The series in Cincinnati begins tonight at the Great American Ballpark. The aforementioned Ubaldo Jimenez will be on the mound for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Bronson Arroyo. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.