It's got to be good to have a guaranteed $50 million contract coming your way. That's what Ubaldo Jimenez has got. The longest and largest free agent contract that the Orioles have ever given to a pitcher. What would be even better is if he'd looked like he deserved that in his first couple of starts with the team. Instead, he continued his early struggles Monday in a 4-2 loss, making it feel like it's going to be a long four years with him as a fixture in the rotation.
Jimenez only went 4.2 innings and managed to walk five batters in that time. He also gave up eight hits. All four Yankees runs were charged to him. He now sports a 6.75 ERA through his first two starts. It has not been a good introduction to Ubaldo, who is living up to the command-challenged part of his reputation and is not living up to any of the good parts of his reputation.
If you wanted to make some excuses for Ubaldo, one of the runs only scored because Zach Britton came on in relief and walked in the run, but when you leave the game with the bases loaded, having just walked former Oriole Brian Roberts to load the bases, that's on you. Another run scored in the fourth inning on a ball that was in the glove of a diving Nick Markakis and it bounced out when he landed. This scene is depicted above. If Markakis only had some range, he could have gotten there without diving.
There were seven other hits that were plenty Jimenez's fault. Allowing 13 baserunners without getting through the fifth inning is bad.
Though Britton gave up a run in the inherited mess, he went on to pitch the next 1.2 innings cleanly. It was his third two-inning outing of the year and he maintains an ERA of 0, with batters thus far hitting .105 against him. His early success is one of the few bright spots on the team right now.
The Orioles lost the game by two runs, and as it turns out, they had two players thrown out on the basepaths like a nincompoop (TOOTBLAN). This was embarrassingly bad stuff, the kind of thing that you wouldn't believe if you didn't see it. Nelson Cruz got some offense going in the second inning with a one-out single, then promptly got himself doubled up on a fairly routine fly ball to center from Steve Lombardozzi. Did he forget how many outs there were and think it was just some kind of two-out, run forever carousel? It was Casilla-like ineptitude on the basepaths, only it didn't end the game.
There was also dunderheaded baserunning from Jonathan Schoop, who apparently wanted to erase all good will he'd just earned by getting a double. If you read the play-by-play, it just says, "J Schoop picked off second." That is a true statement that also does nothing to describe the depths of how terrible it was. There was a pitch, and Schoop wandered casually off of the bag as it was thrown. Yankees catcher Brian McCann caught the pitch, stood up, stepped to the side, took a swig of Gatorade, then threw to second base, where Schoop was still out by two steps.
I made up the part about the Gatorade. The rest is true. Schoop had forever to get back to the base and he didn't. It was bad, bad, bad, the kind of thing that makes you think Schoop will be sure to be sent back to the minors whenever Manny Machado is healthy. That's provided J.J. Hardy heals from his back spasms, of course. He was out of the lineup for the second straight game.
The O's offense had some chances to get to Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda. Or at least they had what's passed for chances so far this year. They got eight hits off of him in 6.1 innings, and even got a few key hits with runners in scoring position. A 3-8 with RISP is not great, but there are days where it'll do. Probably not many of those days come when your bottom third of the order is Steve Lombardozzi, Ryan Flaherty, and Schoop. Those guys went a combined 1-10 and Schoop was thrown out after his lone hit. Add in an 0-3 from leadoff hitter David Lough and that is a lot of consecutive failure.
Matt Wieters and Cruz drove in the Orioles runs. Each had two hits, including an RBI single. Wieters also threw out Jacoby Ellsbury attempting to steal, uncorking a throw so strong that it beat Ellsbury by a fair margin and convinced the umpire that Ellsbury was out even though a lazy tag from Flaherty didn't touch Ellsbury until he was safe. Oops. A challenge was not initiated on this play and life went on long after the thrill of living was gone.
Lough is now batting .105/.190/.211 to start off the season. Flaherty has one-upped him in the department of terrible hitting, batting .048/.091/.048. That's unbridled suck. You can't make excuses for that, and it is part of why the team is barely averaging more than three runs per game over the first seven.
That's going to help you lose five out of seven games to start the season, though, especially with the rotation struggling the way that it is. Starters not named Chris Tillman have an 8.76 ERA. I don't want to talk about this game any more. Good bye.