Don’t look now, but the Orioles are tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for the top AL Wild Card spot with three games to play.
They won two of three in their personal house of horrors, the Rogers Centre, and are now battling for a chance to host the Wild Card game at Camden Yards and not have to return to Toronto.
And you have Ubaldo Jimenez to thank.
Yes, that Ubaldo.
The one that was so terrible for four months. The one so many Orioles fans – the Ubaldo Pitchfork Mob, I liked calling them — wanted to cut and have management eat $20+ million through 2017.
The Orioles couldn’t do that because they knew at any moment Jimenez could figure out his complicated mechanics, throw strikes with deception and morph into the pitcher they thought he’d be when they signed him to a four-year, $50 million deal before the 2014 season.
And they absolutely, positively did not want him doing that for another team on their dime.
So the Ubaldo Pitchfork Mob screamed, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter stuck Jimenez back into the rotation when Chris Tillman got hurt in late August.
In his last seven starts, Jimenez is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA. Opponents are hitting .170 against him. On Thursday, he allowed one hit and three walks while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings.
And it was against the Blue Jays. With the season on the line. A tremendous gut-check performance.
Yeah, that Ubaldo.