The Orioles lost tonight for the first time in 2016. It was bound to happen eventually, and the most disappointing thing to me about the game was not the loss itself but the poor showing by Ubaldo Jimenez. It feels weird to talk about when your team is 7-1, but the starting pitching is very, very concerning to me.
I'm going to start you all off with this pleasant thought: if this were the first baseball game I had ever watched, I would probably never watch another one. You hear baseball being criticized for being too slow paced and the league has even taken measures to try and speed things up. I hear those criticisms and while I understand, I usually think that doesn't apply to me. Tonight, though, was one of the worst games I can remember watching.
The pitching matchup tonight was Joe Kelly vs. Ubaldo Jimenez. I had high hopes for Ubaldo tonight. He had a great first game last week and frankly, the Orioles needed a starter who could eat a few innings. I had reservations, because it's Ubaldo, but hope. That hope was misplaced, because Ubaldo was just awful. Horrible. Kelly was just as terrible, but somehow gave up two fewer runs. Together they made every inning long and stupid. They each barely got through five innings and of the 10 half-innings pitched exactly one was of the 1-2-3 variety.
There were just so many balls, so many walks, so many baserunners. On both sides. It was brutal. Making it even worse was the fact that the Orioles just couldn't knock Kelly around the way I know they are capable of doing. They got the runners on but couldn't get them in.
Jimenez's first inning was maybe the worst half inning of baseball I've ever seen that didn't result in any runs scoring. Mookie Betts singled and stole second base ahead of a walk to Dustin Pedroia, putting two on with no outs. Luckily for Jimenez, the defense behind him is pretty good. Xander Bogaerts hit a sharp ground ball wide of third base. Manny Machado ranged over and tried to tag Betts, but missed. He fired to second to get the force out, then Schoop threw to third base where J.J. Hardy was waiting to tag out Betts for the second out. The ol' 5-4-6 double play. You see it all the time.
It seemed that Jimenez was almost out of it, what with a runner on first and two outs, but now. Bogaerts stole second base, then David Ortiz walked, then Bogaerts stole third base. Hanley Ramirez mercifully grounded out to end the inning.
The scoring started in the top of the third when Machado reached on a double and then came around to score on yet another Chris Davis home run. That made the score 2-0 in favor of the Orioles and was good to see after they completely squandered a chance in the second inning. Hardy started things by hitting a double that he for some reason thought he could stretch into a triple. J.J.! You are slow! He was thrown out at third for the first out of the inning. I feel like there is an adage about that. Later in the same inning they loaded the bases but couldn't score.
The Red Sox tied up the game in the bottom of the third. Betts and Pedroia singled and came in to score on a double by Bogaerts. Ubaldo followed up that fine work with another walk to David Ortiz, but his defense bailed him out again when Hardy made a sweet catch of a ball from Hanley Ramirez and flipped it to Schoop for the double play. Travis Shaw then grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
In the fourth inning the Red Sox took the lead. Ubaldo walked another guy, this time Brock Holt. Holt scored on a triple by Jackie Bradley, who scored on a ground ball to second base.
The story through the first five innings was two pitchers who didn't look qualified to pitch in the majors bumbling around. Unfortunately the Red Sox were able to break through in a way the Orioles couldn't, and that was the difference in the game. Here are the final pitching lines for both starters:
- Joe Kelly: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 6 K. 116 pitches
- Ubaldo Jimenez: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 104 pitches