This is probably the most obvious, pseudo-analysis I’ve had since this website started.
If Ubaldo Jimenez can repeat his deceptive delivery and throw strikes, he’s going to have real success this year. This is not a revelation.
It’s what has been said about Jimenez for years, certainly since he has been with the Orioles. But it is worth noting now, because that is exactly what he did in Saturday’s doubleheader nightcap as the Orioles beat the Oakland A’s, 5-2. He wasn’t overpowering – he struck out six – but he was efficient.
It really is elementary.
When Jimenez repeats his funky delivery, he has command of his pitches. When he has command, he doesn’t have an accelerated pitch count early. When his pitch count is low, he can keep attacking the strike zone and let the hitters put the ball in play. And when the strong defense behind him is alert – and not being lulled to sleep by an accelerated pitch count – they tend to make the needed plays. And that allows Jimenez to pitch deep in games.
Got all that?
Orioles manager Buck Showalter does.
“He was solid, obviously. You all watched it,” Showalter said. “How many walks did he have, one? He dialed up something we needed.”
Jimenez gets it, too.
“I always try to stay away from the walks. The walks hurt,” Jimenez said. “Every time I walk a guy, it seems like they find a way to score. It doesn’t matter how. So I try to find a way to stay away from that.”
Jimenez gave up his share of hits Saturday – nine – but only two runs. He threw an efficient 104 pitches in eight innings. It was the first time he’s gone eight since throwing a two-hitter on Aug. 8 at the Los Angeles Angels.
In that game he surrendered no walks and threw 109 pitches. He has it in him. He knows what he needs to do. It’s just a whole lot harder to do than it sounds.
Wright’s mound maturation
Mike Wright’s line from Saturday’s early, 8-4 loss to the A’s wasn’t pretty.
He allowed five runs on 10 hits and two walks in just five innings pitched. His season ERA jumped to 5.83.
But Wright didn’t exactly get pummeled; nine of the 10 hits were singles. Several of the “sneaking-through” variety.
“I don’t know if I’ve been involved in a game with more tough luck by the pitcher,” Showalter said. “But they’re hits. You hit them where people don’t play.”
One of the things that will be interesting to watch with the progression of Wright, who has made just 14 starts in the majors, is how he handles games like Saturday in the future: When he pitches good enough to win, but the results aren’t there – whether because he gives up too many hits or because his defense makes miscues or whatever.
Showalter said Saturday he felt like Wright was “a little frustrated by the balls falling in.”
Wright is an emotional guy with a big personality. He is exceptionally competitive. And that can be tremendous at times on the field. But, like all young pitchers, he also has to learn how to best channel those emotions when things start to unravel. That’s one sign of a great pitcher. And I really don’t think it’s going to be a problem with Wright. Showalter doesn’t think so either.
“I don’t want a bunch of robots. Didn’t affect the way he pitched. I thought he pitched well,” Showalter said. “If that’s who you are and how you feel, as long as it doesn’t affect the way you pitch, I’m Ok with that.”
Janish starts at shortstop; more to come?
Paul Janish was recalled Saturday and immediately was placed into the Orioles lineup for Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. None of that was surprising. This was, a little anyway: Janish started at shortstop while Manny Machado went back to third base.
In the second game, Janish was on the bench, Ryan Flaherty started the game at third base and Machado was back at short.
This is interesting to me because Showalter said he doesn’t want to keep moving Machado back and forth from short to third while regular shortstop J.J. Hardy (foot) is on the disabled list for at least six weeks.
And, in one day, Machado started at both positions.
Showalter’s reasoning for his alignment Saturday makes sense. Janish is a splendid defensive shortstop, likely better than Machado at this stage since Machado hasn’t played the position regularly since 2012 in the minors.
So Janish got the nod at short when he played. But Machado is considered better at short than the sure-handed Flaherty, so that switch was made when Flaherty started.
Keep your eye on this. Showalter was adamant about not moving Machado around. And I can’t imagine he’d say that publicly and then swap it continually. Janish can play third, too – and we might see him do that soon for the sake of continuity with Machado.
McFarland will start Tues for Norfolk
Lefty long reliever T.J. McFarland was sent to the minors before Saturday’s early game to make room for Janish. He was then recalled for the second game as part of the “26th man rule” and then was sent to Triple-A Norfolk, for real, after the nightcap.
He’ll start for the Tides on Tuesday in a seven-inning game as part of a Norfolk doubleheader.
It makes sense to keep McFarland stretched out – and starting if a possible need arises for the big-league club’s rotation later this year.
But Showalter loves having McFarland as an insurance policy in case one of his right-handed starters leaves a game early.
So McFarland will be back soon enough. He should be eligible again in nine days, since Saturday should count as one day toward the 10-day requirement, even though he was in uniform for the second game – because he was the 26th man and that doesn’t count against a player.
Yes, baseball rules are confusing.