The Orioles put together a nice little rally in the ninth Friday night against the Houston Astros. Five runs — including a Jonathan Schoop three-run homer – in an eventual 8-7 loss.
But, really, hope for a victory died in the first inning. And was buried in the second.
Ubaldo Jimenez again did the honors.
Jimenez has pitched two games in the second half. He dug a 6-0 hole for the Orioles in the first one last Sunday against the Chicago Cubs. Then a 5-0 (and 7-1) deficit in Friday’s loss.
That’s deflating for any offense to try and overcome. And yet the Orioles almost did with that stirring ninth.
Sure, Richard Bleier had a hand in this loss, too. He gave up six hits and two runs in 2 2/3 innings,
But the defeat is squarely on Jimenez, who, frankly, and unfortunately for him, gave up as many soft, seeing-eye hits as he did hard ones Friday.
“It’s a little frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Jimenez said of the weak hits that found holes. “Sometimes, they hit the ball hard and they hit it right at someone. I’m in this spot right now where they hit it soft and they find the hole; they hit it hard and it’s going to be out of the park.”
Jimenez (4-6, 7.19 ERA) allowed 10 hits and six runs in 5 1/3 innings Friday and has given up 21 hits in his last two outings. In his last four games since his two-hit, scoreless gem at Toronto on June 29, he’s been tagged for 21 runs in 19 innings (9.95 ERA).
The question is now what happens with Jimenez, who is still owed roughly $5 million on his four-year, $50 million deal. Will he make his next start or maybe be put in the bullpen?
“It’s always a possibility,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said about Jimenez in a relief role. “But you can say that about a few other guys, too. Certainly, another topic after he has a tough outing and I understand why. But we’ll see. He’s capable of better.”
The other possibility, of course, is the Orioles eating the remaining money and designating him for assignment. The club has been unwilling to do that in the past, partially because of the money, but also because Jimenez has rebounded from bullpen demotions and pitched well in spurts. Frankly, the Orioles don’t have much obvious help in Triple-A, either.
Showalter was asked whether he thought someone from Norfolk might be able to help – even if that pitcher’s numbers have been poor as well, such as Jayson Aquino (3-7, 4.34 ERA at Triple-A).
“Yes, there is. There’s always that possibility. Now, you’ve got seven pitching staffs in the organization. There’s a lot of guys, if that’s the description. But there’s a lot of ramifications that come with it,” Showalter said. “Obviously, the priority when you start a season is the major league club, getting in the playoffs and winning a championship. I’m focused on trying to make what we have — which has been good at times and in the past — as good as it can be. It’s capable of better, and that’s where I’m dwelling. I look at box scores and what have you. There are people down there capable of pitching well up here, that’s for sure.”
To be fair, and in full disclosure, I really thought Jimenez would have a solid season this year, for various reasons. I wrote it in April, and have been getting hammered for it since.
But I dropped that platform a while back. He’s a truly stand-up guy, but he’s just not able to be counted on in the rotation.
I’m not sure who is better. But the results can’t be much worse.