Every week, our fearless leader Mark sends out a schedule where the writers can sign up for recaps and other writing features, and every week I try to figure out which recap I want based on who the starting pitcher will be. Somewhere along the line this year it became apparent that Ubaldo Jimenez starts were the ones I wanted to recap. It's crazy, right? But hey, I want to write about a good game, and we live in a strange world where Ubaldo gives us a good chance for that.
Unfortunately for the recappers, and I guess for everyone who watches this team, the offense and the bullpen is the same no matter who the starting pitcher is that day. And it's the offense and bullpen that took what could have been a lovely game and turned it into a turdfest.
The pitching matchup tonight was Jimenez vs Brett Oberholtzer. You may remember Olberholtzer from May 30, 2014, when he held the Orioles to one run in seven innings. Or perhaps from July 31, 2013, when the Astros beat the Orioles 11-0 behind seven shutout innings from Olberholtzer. But we have Ubaldo! And as I've mentioned, tonight Ubaldo wasn't the problem.
Jimenez cruised through three innings before giving up a one-out double to Preston Tucker in the fourth inning, but he retired the next two batters. He did give up a solo home run to Luis Valbuena in the fifth inning and got himself into trouble with a hit batter, a walk, and a single. But a strong throw from Delmon Young to nab the runner at home got the O's out of the inning with no more runs allowed.
After a very quick 1-2-3 sixth inning, Ubaldo took the mound to start the seventh inning with the Orioles clinging to a 2-1 lead that felt like it should have been more. The Orioles offense had been lousy for most of the night, which lately isn't unusual. After starting the game going six up, six down, they put two runners on with no outs in the third inning. That brought Everth Cabrera to the plate, who is just awful. He struck out on three pitches, Manny Machado followed with a GIDP, and that was that.
The Orioles picked up two more singles in the fourth inning, but thanks to David Lough being the fastest guy in history to be terrible at stealing bases, he was picked off and the rally stopped before it even got started.
Even in the innings when the Orioles scored, they failed to take advantage of their chances. In the fifth inning, Ryan Flaherty hit a one-out RBI triple but was stranded at third base (again courtesy of Cabrera, who botched a bunt attempt and then struck out, and Machado). In the sixth inning Chris Davis hit a double (that missed being a home run by just a few feet) that knocked in Adam Jones for what was then the go ahead run. With Delmon Young on third and Davis on second with one out, again the Orioles couldn't score any more.
So right, back to Ubaldo and his very tiny 2-1 lead. I don't know if you guys have heard this stat about the Astros, where they basically score all of the runs in the seventh inning. Let me just check it out...yes, they have scored 500 runs in the seventh inning this year. Give or take. So when Ubaldo gave up a base hit to Chris Carter to start the seventh, Buck Showalter decided to pull him despite the fact that he had just 91 pitches and had been looking good. It was a curious decision and felt like it was being made due to the very small margin of error the Orioles had allowed themselves. Jimenez was clearly not happy with the decision to come out of the game, and it turns out with good reason.
Jimenez's replacement was Brad Brach, who has been stellar for the most part this season. This night he was not. It was ugly. There were walks, there were singles, there were sacrifice flies. Brach recorded two outs and allowed two runs to cross the plate, one of Ubaldo's and one of his own. He left the game with the bases loaded, and it was up to Tommy Hunter to get the final out.
He did not do it. He went 0-2 on Evan Gattis, but then gave up a single to right field that knocked in two runs, both charged to Brach. The inning only ended because Preston Tucker went too far around third base and Young threw to Machado to tag him out. So really, Hunter did nothing.
Down by three runs, the Orioles didn't come close to having another baserunner over the final two innings. The game ended on an embarrassing swinging strikeout by Jimmy Paredes, where he swung so hard he spun around. You know the kind.
So now the Orioles have lost three games in a row. Mike Wright will try to stop the bleeding tomorrow. Too bad he can't hit.