The Orioles kicked off a three-game set in Tampa Bay with this Labor Day matinee. How’d it go? Everything you need to know and more below.
Despite the glowing headline to this recap, things did get ugly to start the game with Ubaldo Jimenez on the hill. After Tampa Bay starter Matt Andriese worked a scoreless top half of the first, the Rays quickly jumped on offense.
Kevin Kiermaier singled and stole second base with one out, putting Evan Longoria up with a runner in scoring position opportunity. On a 1-1 fastball, Jimenez’s offering rode up and in, hitting Longoria in the hand to send him to first. And with a pair of runners on with two outs, Logan Morrison put a significant early dent in Ubaldo’s numbers.
He pulled one to right field that had just enough carry to get over the outfield wall, hitting it just far enough to make it a home run. Just like that, before the O’s could reach the heart of their order, it was 3-0 Rays.
What might’ve been worse than Ubaldo’s first-inning struggles was the failure of the lineup’s first looks at Andriese.
Machado singled in the first and a throwing error in the third put Adam Jones on base, but the resiliency of Tampa’s starter kept the Orioles’ bats cold early. Through the first three innings, yet another disappointing road loss appeared to be on the horizon.
Fortunately, the Davis/Trumbo duo got very clean looks during their second at-bats to spark a little life into the club in the top of the fourth inning. Davis blasted an opposite-field home run to lead off the inning (his 34th on the season), a jolt that was followed by a hard-hit Trumbo double off the wall in right.
The offense (perhaps fittingly) couldn’t drive him in, but courtesy of a wild pitch in J.J. Hardy’s two-out at bat, Trumbo crossed for the Orioles’ second run of the game. It wasn’t attractive, but it worked.
Jimenez, flipping the script, really settled down and allowed the offense an opportunity to get back into the ballgame. The Tampa hitters swung away and made their contact, but nothing terribly jarring. He’d end the fourth inning with 63 pitches — a very welcomed number after the first.
After four, it was 3-2 Tampa Bay.
Perhaps the most notable opportunity of the game came in the fifth inning, when the patented Orioles explosion inning took great form. Hyun-Soo Kim started the parade by roping a double down the right-field line, a hit that was followed by an Adam Jones base-knock.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Crushtopher Davis didn’t exactly go yard, but he managed to work a brilliant two-out at-bat, scoring two on a poke to centerfield.
After Davis made it to second on the throw on the previous play, Trumbo proved his worth yet again (for approximately the one-billionth time in 2016). He singled to score Davis, making it 5-3 Orioles with more fireworks to be had.
Jonathan Schoop grounded one up the middle later in the frame — still against Andriese — to plate both Trumbo and Wieters, who also singled. In the blink of an eye, the O’s put up a 5-spot in the fifth inning, giving Jimenez a five-run lead.
How’s that for helping out your pitcher?
Overall, Jimenez was brilliant. As strange as it would have seemed to type after the first inning, his outing ended up being absolutely superb on this Labor Day afternoon at The Trop.
He cruised against the Rays lineup, in total surrendering just two hits over nine innings of work. He struck out just four, but walked just a single batter, possibly the most telling statistic of the afternoon. A one-walk Ubaldo start is generally a profitable one, just the case in this one.
A bit of a fun note — Eddie Gamboa, the 31-year-old veteran of the Orioles minor-league system, was able to pitch three scoreless innings for the Rays after Andriese left the game.
The knuckle-ball thrower is finally getting his opportunity in the big-leagues, great news for a guy who put in a tremendous amount of time and energy during his time in the system.
But, let’s get to the biggest news of the afternoon that you might’ve glanced over: A Baltimore Orioles pitcher threw a complete game.
That’s right. An accomplishment that hasn’t been earned since September of 2014 was reached by Ubaldo Jimenez... and it wasn’t by chance.
Ubaldo was the real deal. After that forgettable first inning, his efficiency and ability to place all of his pitches was as good as we’ve seen since he’s been in Baltimore.
Take this into consideration: after allowing a pair of hits in the top of the first, Jimenez tossed eight straight no-hit innings, walking just a single batter. He finished the game retiring 17 straight batters, propelling the Orioles to their 75th win of the season.
Celebrate good times!
The Orioles will play two more against Tampa Bay before a massive weekend series against the Tigers in Detroit.
Buckle up, Baltimore. Crunch time is getting very, very real.
- Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo combined for a 4-7 afternoon, with 4 RBI and 4 runs scored.
- After being hit in the hand by Jimenez, Evan Longoria exited the game.
- Jimenez has surrendered just three walks in his last three starts (21.2 innings).