Despite the 4-0 loss to the Washington Nationals, Thursday night was a victory for Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
He needed a strong pitching performance. The Orioles needed it. The fans needed it.
With No. 1 starter Chris Tillman on the shelf at least through this month with shoulder bursitis, the Orioles starting rotation was searching for a boost.
And it came Thursday from the roster’s most expensive and most beleaguered pitcher.
“It felt really good,” said Jimenez, who allowed one run – a Jayson Werth homer – on five hits in six innings. “It felt really good to be there for the team when they needed it the most, especially right now that Tilly went down. It felt good that I was able to compete and give them a chance to be close in the score.”
Ultimately, Jimenez picked up the loss, his 11th this season. But he pitched great against a good lineup, walking no one, striking out four and lowering his season ERA from 6.94 to 6.62.
“He was great,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I think everybody was pulling for him. He’s such a good young man, just needed it.”
Consider what the assignment was.
Fill in for Tillman, you know, the Orioles’ best starter. Oh, and start for the first time since July 28, and the second time in the second half of this season.
Oh, and do it against a Nationals team that has lost three straight to their geographical rival and is seemingly backed-up into a corner.
Oh, and the guy you’re sharing a mound with will be Max Scherzer one of the most dominating pitchers on the planet.
You get the picture. No pressure.
“As a starting pitcher, that’s one of the games that you dream of, because it gets you going,” a smiling Jimenez said after Thursday’s game. “You have to bring your A-game, because (Scherzer) is tough to hit. You have to go out there and compete.”
Jimenez competed. He darn near dominated. And he earned another start – though Showalter didn’t say it directly.
“I haven’t even gotten that far on,” Showalter said after the game, adding, “I don’t know what else he has to do.”
For his part, Jimenez hopes that he gets another chance to start and to try and put a nightmare season behind him.
“Hopefully, I get some more,” he said. “But wherever they put me, I’m going to try to do the best I can to be there for the team.”