So, I don’t see anything wrong with Ubaldo Jimenez and the Baltimore Orioles, as together they kicked off the second half of the 2014 season with a totally great performance. And I saw it in person with my own two eyes! There aren’t any problems!
Jimenez posted his first victory of the season at Camden Yards by throwing eight strong innings of four-hit baseball, giving up only one unearned run in the Orioles 7-1 win over the Texas Rangers. Perhaps even more impressive was his control, as he only yielded one walk. A total of 71 of his 116 pitches were strikes. There is no doubt that when he pounds the strike zone and makes the other team have to swing, that they are not going to center too many balls and hit him really hard.
And I swear I saw a monkey running down Eutaw Street after the game, having been living on Ubaldo’s back for the past three months.
All the support Jimenez needed came from the first two batters for the O’s. Nick Markakis walked, and Steve Pearce followed it with a powerful home run to left field. After having had the worst run support in baseball, it was great to see Ubaldo get an early cushion.
Adam Jones added an additional run with a homer in the first inning, while J.J. Hardy gave the Birds their fourth run with a solo shot in the second inning. Frankly it is true when I say that the Orioles win a strong majority of games that I attend, and that I think Hardy has hit a homer in about 75% of games I’ve been at since he joined the Birds. Hardy singled into center field later in the game, and I think it was as hard-hit as any ball all evening.
Pearce added an additional two-run homer for the Birds in the fourth inning off Joe Sanders – who was simply not fooling anyone and ended up being charged for all the Orioles’ seven runs. The final RBI was by Caleb Joseph on a sac fly, as the catcher seems to be getting increasingly comfortable at the plate.
Pearce is now hitting .327 and has nine home runs. I have to say that I find this all rather amazing and did not see it coming. Of my years of writing and commenting on this team and its players, I think I have been more in error on Steve Pearce than any other player. But good for him, and may he continue to drive the ball.
Pearce was playing first base while Chris Davis moved to third to cover for the suspended Manny Machado. Davis made a sweet back-handed stop early in the game, and even though he was charged with an error later on a throw, it was a difficult play. He is more than adequate to play at third if that will contribute over the next four games to keeping Pearce and Delmon Young on the field and coming to bat. However, I suspect Showalter will feel the need to play Ryan Flaherty against right-handers.
All in all, this is the sort of Baltimore Orioles squad we expected to see in 2014. If they can be this in some sort of relatively consistent fashion over the second half of the season, we could see baseball in October in Baltimore.
On another note, former Orioles pitcher Jake Arrieta had a great night for the Chicago Cubs against the Red Sox. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before giving up a run. He is now 5-1 with a 1.81 ERA. Pedro Strop came in to get the last out of the eighth inning, and he has an ERA of 3.02.
A shout out here to “Nate” … a Cubs fan from Chicago on a business trip to Baltimore – visiting the Yard for the first time and chatting with me at the game. Hey man – I hope Arrieta is a star for you guys, and thank him when you see him for beating the Red Sox for us tonight!