Can Ubaldo Jimenez Stabilize the Orioles?

The Baltimore Orioles have had a rough couple of days. The team’s normally stellar defense has failed them this week and led to unearned runs, embarrassment, and some hurt feelings. After a sloppy display in Monday’s series finale loss to the Red Sox, the Orioles looked to rebound on Tuesday in Toronto against the Blue Jays. O’s starter Bud Norris failed to get past the third inning and headed for the showers after allowing nine earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings. Norris gave way to a bullpen parade that featured Brian Matusz, Jason Garcia, and Brad Brach.

Garcia, a rookie Rule 5 draft selection, threw a pitch behind Jays slugger Jose Bautista in the seventh inning. Bautista responded by hammering the next pitch over the left-center field wall, admiring his moon shot, and casually making his way around the bases. Several Orioles, including center fielder Adam Jones took exception to Bautista’s showboating. The two All-Stars exchanged some heated words between innings. The Orioles have two more games in this series against the Blue Jays and they’ll be much better served spending more energy on getting Bautista out than worrying about his cry baby act.

The Orioles will turn to right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez for Wednesday’s start. Jimenez has been Baltimore’s best pitcher in 2015 after a disastrous 2014 season. Jimenez has allowed just one hit, four walks and no runs in 10 2/3 innings over his two starts this season. Jimenez was embroiled in a controversy of his own last Friday when he was ejected after hitting Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval with a pitch. The fourth inning ejection came without any prior warning being issued by the umpiring crew. Jimenez was pitching a shut out at the time and his dismissal put an undue strain on the O’s bullpen and drew harsh criticism from Buck Showalter.

The Orioles need Jimenez to continue his stellar pitching and shelve the beanball act today. Jimenez pitched seven shutout innings in his season debut against the Blue Jays on April 11th. The Toronto lineup has made mincemeat of every O’s starter not named Ubaldo Jimenez. They’ve been particularly rough on Bud Norris touching up the veteran for 17 earned runs in just 5 1/3 innings pitched this season. Showalter and company should put any perceived slight by Bautista on the back burner and get back to the business of playing good baseball.

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