Ubaldo Jimenez needed Wednesday night’s performance, no doubt. And the Orioles – and their fans — needed to see it.
Jimenez pitched six innings, allowed just two runs and four hits as the Orioles beat the San Diego Padres 7-2.
It was his second win in his last eight starts. It was his first quality start since May 7 versus Oakland.
And it was his first start, period, since the $50 million man was removed from the rotation last week.
“I just wanted to get the job done, for sure. There’s no more pressure than that,” Jimenez said. “As a pitcher, I know how I was throwing before I got sent down to the bullpen. I was just trying to find a way to survive and get back on my feet.”
There was a sense that things could line up well for Jimenez and this could be a good start for him – but he had to prove it.
“I couldn’t be happier (for Jimenez),” Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. “He went out there and competed. That’s all we ask.”
Before we give Jimenez the AL Cy Young Award, let’s understand some things: He did walk four batters in six innings – though he also fanned seven.
He did throw 104 pitches, and that’s not particularly efficient.
And the San Diego Padres, though they have been hitting better of late and scored 10 runs Tuesday night, are not typically a good offensive team.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn’t gush over Jimenez’s performance, noting the number of walks and the times he was slow to the plate – he actually almost overthrew Matt Wieters on a pitchout – to allow Travis Jankowski to steal two bases.
“He had better command of his fastball. He got some counts in his favor — he went from 0-2 to 3-2 with some guys, which you don’t like to see,” Showalter said about Jimenez. “He didn’t execute the pitchout. Between the four walks and the hits, that’s almost like it’s 90 feet we could have kept from happening. But I’ll take the end product. I would have signed up for that and hopefully he can take it and build on it.”
That’s the bottom line here. There’s nothing in Jimenez’s performance Wednesday to suggest he has turned the corner and is about to go on a roll. But he also pitched adequately and gave the Orioles a chance to win. He even struck out the side in the sixth to leave on a tremendous note.
That’s got to be what is taken away from this game. There were some good moments that show that he can be effective. But there were also times when he was on shaky ground.
Unfortunately, being adequate is a victory for Jimenez and the Orioles right now.
And the fans, who have been upfront with their displeasure of Jimenez’s performances this season, seemed to get that. They gave Jimenez a nice ovation after the sixth inning.
“I’ve been in the majors for almost nine years, so I know how things go,” he said of the fans’ cheers. “If you do good, they are going to be there for you.”