Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Ubaldo's bad night; Showalter's abundant praise; happy homers - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Ubaldo’s bad night; Showalter’s abundant praise; happy homers

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

I’ve been an Ubaldo Jimenez apologist for the past year or so.

Mainly because I was tired of all the people last year who suggested the Orioles should cut him in May or June and eat $20 million-plus or so. Silliness.

My rationale at the time is that releasing him would be a terrible move financially, especially considering Jimenez had a track record of going on a dominant run – basically out of nowhere – that could help carry a team. And the Orioles couldn’t pay him to make that potential run for another club on their dime.

The Orioles held on to Jimenez and he made my point for me, posting a 2.82 ERA in the second half. He had a 3-1 record and 2.35 ERA in five September starts, helping the Orioles get to the postseason.

This season, his contract year, I thought Jimenez would pitch well, or at least better than he has in any of his previous three seasons as an Oriole.

It sure hasn’t started that way. Jimenez allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings Monday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, surrendered a homer on his fifth pitch and pushed his ERA of 5.95 through four starts.

The frustration that is Ubaldo was encapsulated perfectly this week. Last Wednesday, he threw 7 2/3 shutout innings and allowed just two hits. Monday, he couldn’t throw a strike – he only threw 35 in 78 pitches – and didn’t get out of the fourth.

ADVERTISEMENT

What was the difference?

“I didn’t have a good grip tonight. I wasn’t able to throw any breaking balls for strikes,” Jimenez said. “I think I only threw a couple good splits, but besides that I couldn’t get a grip on the sinker or the breaking balls.”

Yes, it was a terrible day to pitch. A constant, chilling rain that made gripping the ball difficult. In one sense, Jimenez deserves a pass on Monday (Archer wasn’t good either, allowing five runs in 6 2/3).

“I don’t like to use anything like that as an excuse,” Jimenez said of the weather. “But I didn’t have a grip (on the ball). I couldn’t get a grip.”

Part may have been nature. But part is always mechanics with Jimenez. When his mechanics are out of whack, he can’t throw strikes.

I’m not abandoning my positive prediction on Jimenez yet – a season is not made in four April (or five September) starts. But even I can’t condone an inning like the fourth, when he faced eight batters and walked four. He walked the No. 9 hitter, Derek Norris, who entered the game batting .173. Jimenez just failed to attack the zone all evening, with his sinker continually hitting the dirt.

There will be better days for Jimenez, I’m sure. And, to the chagrin of some fans, there will be more days for Jimenez as an Oriole. I’m sure of that, too.

With Jimenez, there will be some good and some bad. We all know that. But, boy, the bad can be downright awful at times.

Showalter calls Monday “one of our best wins”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter rarely champions one win over any other.

It seems like every time a reporter tries to ask him if a certain victory was particularly important or inspiring, he shoots down the concept.

On Monday, though, Showalter praised his team in what he said was, “one of our best wins this year.”

What? And why is that?

Why was an April victory over a middling Tampa Rays team so inspiring?

Well, because the Orioles just came off an emotionally draining series against the Boston Red Sox. They were playing in absolutely crappy weather with a crowd that was announced at 11,142 (tickets sold), but was certainly smaller than that.

And the Orioles battled back to beat an excellent pitcher in Archer.

So, Showalter was a little more effusive about a single victory than he usually is.

“Tough series over the weekend. You come here tonight and you know it’s going to be cold and nasty. A lot of people (fans) probably look at the weather and (decide to stay home),” Showalter said. “We were going to have to really be ready to play, and our guys were. I was really proud of them tonight. That’s a tough game to win and our guys figured out a way. That was impressive.”

Homer-centric sometimes works

Another frustration for Orioles fans is the offense’s seeming reliance on the home run.

Well, it’s a frustration when it doesn’t work. On Monday, the Orioles had just seven hits, but three were homers, accounting for four runs. And they fought back from a 3-1 deficit to win 6-3.

It’s why these Orioles are never really out of games.

Sure, there are times when the ball isn’t flying out of the park, the strikeouts mount and the offense completely shuts down.

But then there are nights like Monday, when Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones and even Hyun Soo Kim, take a pitch for a ride.

The homer can quickly make up for a lot of deficiencies. And, if you’re still grousing about relying on the homer, know this: The Orioles’ other two runs Monday were on productive outs.

Radio musings

If you didn’t listen to (or stream) my weekly radio show on WOYK, you can check it out here, on the station’s website or by downloading it as a podcast on iTunes.

It’s a pretty full show, I’ll say that.

Brittany Ghiroli, Orioles beat writer for mlb.com, gives her insight into the season, and her thoughts on the weekend mashup with the Red Sox.

I also include interviews with Zach Britton and Manny Machado about what happened against Boston, and a discussion with lefty Wade Miley about his hot start.

Other stuff

Despite his high ERA, the Orioles are actually 4-0 in Jimenez’s starts this season. They just can’t lose with Ubaldo on the mound. … By the last out, the announced crowd was down to about 142. Give major credit to those that stayed through the driving rain. … The Orioles have three back-to-back homers this season. Schoop has been involved in all of them (Monday with Kim and twice with Trey Mancini). … Adam Jones picked up his 1,500th career hit. That’s some impressive compiling for a guy who is only 31.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 25, 2017 at 7:33 am

    My wife suggests the problem was that Ubaldo couldn’t breathe through his eyelids due to the steady rain last night.

    • Creatively_19

      April 25, 2017 at 8:13 am

      Chris Archer played pretty well through the same conditions for much of the night, and he plays half his games in the ugliest dome in the hemisphere, so I don’t think there’s any excuses to be had here.

      • Stacey

        April 25, 2017 at 9:10 am

        Yes there is certainly no advantage to pitching half of your starts in a climate and weather controlled dome.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 25, 2017 at 11:48 am

      That was a bad day to pitch. Period. Yes, Archer had to do it, too (and wasn’t Archer-sequel either). I’m not saying it was the main reason Ubaldo was bad, but I can give him a pass on that one.

  2. Creatively_19

    April 25, 2017 at 8:11 am

    If the O’s are going to win every time Ubaldo starts, can’t he just come in and pitch to the first batter every night?

    Seriously though, Ubaldo is just frustrating. Even taking all his good with his bad, and I’m sure he’s a great guy, I’ll be happy to not have him starting every 5th day and wondering which pitcher is going to show up.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 25, 2017 at 11:50 am

      That’s the frustration. Just when you give up, he goes on a run. He did it in 2015 too.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    April 25, 2017 at 8:40 am

    My feelings towards Mr Jimenez are well known. You simply can’t rely on a guy who is guaranteed to turn into the worst pitcher in the League for stretches of the year in a division with zero margin for error. But, alas, I don’t make the decisions. Plus, I’m too busy going back trying to delete all of the posts and comments I made saying Gausman was a Cy Young lock this year…

    Sub-note, was anyone else pleased to turn on the MASN pre-game last night and see our man Dan, resplendent in his blue suit, giving us the down low?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 25, 2017 at 8:43 am

      Of course … A man of many media.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 25, 2017 at 11:59 am

      Like I’ve said. Face for newspaper. But appreciate you all getting through it.

  4. claudecat

    April 25, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Trying to figure out Ubaldo is like trying to corral feral zebras. The guy defies all logic at times, though there are discernible patterns and tendencies. He seems to do better when the weather’s just right, not too cold, not too wet, not too steamy. He’s also better against teams and hitters that are unfamiliar with him, who haven’t figured out that you just stand there and wait for him to either walk you or throw you a meatball. If all these factors align, you get good Ubaldo! (none of this explains last September fully, but that just adds to the mystery)

    • Dan Connolly

      April 25, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      He’s a box of chocolates. But he definitely seems best when the weather is not too hot or cold. Feral Zebras is a great name for a band, btw.

  5. jonniebmore

    April 25, 2017 at 10:22 am

    When Tillman is ready, Ubaldo should be DFA’d. They don’t owe him any more money after this season. Time to cut bait.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 25, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Good Ubaldo is worth waiting for imo. He was last year. At least for a little while. Especially when there is no one that is clearly better. Aquino and company could be. But they are just as much a dice roll.

      • jonniebmore

        April 25, 2017 at 1:08 pm

        Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. In fact, I figured they might wait til around the all star break if he can not get it together. But now I think they might have to move it up. Tillman by May 2 is ambitious, to say the least. If Tillman is ready by late May and Ubaldo is still skuffling, I think DD will pull the trigger.

  6. bigdaddydk

    April 25, 2017 at 10:46 am

    This was a particularly big win, in my opinion, because of the factors mentioned in the article. It was a game that could have gotten out of hand until Nuño came in and closed the door. Shutting TB down when they had the bases loaded and had just gotten a very favorable review on what I thought was a foul ball was huge. Nuño gets my player of the game award for that.

    I want to like Ubaldo. I really do. I think he’d be a great guy to have a drink with and shoot the breeze. Seems like a good and decent person, and from what I’ve read he’s a hard worker. Although with his mechanics he is like the owner of an expensive foreign car. Something always needs to be adjusted to get it back within normal parameters or it just won’t be right. I agree that four games don’t make a season, but this is a three year experiment that hasn’t really turned out so great more than 50% of the time.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 25, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Hard to argue w anything there.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login or Register Here

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2016 BaltimoreBaseball.com | BaltimoreBaseball.com is an unofficial site that is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball or the Baltimore Orioles. Partner with USA Today Sports Digital Properties.

To Top