Three times this season, including tonight, Ubaldo Jimenez has been unable to complete five innings in a game. And all three times the Orioles have hung on to win that game. Mostly that seems to be pretty lucky, and in the case of tonight their comeback win was fueled by home runs and a strong performance from the bullpen. Hm, maybe its not luck after all.
Let’s get Ubaldo out of the way first so that we can move on to the dingers. Jimenez got off to an ugly start with the very first batter as Corey Dickerson launched one to right field for a leadoff home run. He got through the next few innings before falling apart in the fourth and being pulled with just one out recorded.
By falling apart I mean that he walked the bases loaded and then gave up a two-run double to Shane Peterson (who? exactly). The ball looked like it may have gone foul and the Orioles requested a review, but nothing on the replay was conclusive enough for the umpires to turn it over. Jimenez followed that double with yet another walk and that was it for him.
It was just a classically terrible Ubaldo start, you know? I was really hoping he could build on the success he had in Cincinnati but it did not turn out that way.
Even though the comeback wouldn’t come until later, perhaps the most important player in tonight’s game was relief pitcher Vidal Nuno. He was brought into the game with the bases loaded and just one out, and one wrong move by him would have allowed the Rays to break the game open. Nuno had all the right moves, however, and struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
Nuno pitched two more solid innings after that. He did give up three hits but didn’t allow any more runs, which kept the team’s deficit at just two runs until the bats could come alive against Rays starter Chris Archer.
Coming into this game, Chris Archer had a career 3.50 ERA overall and he’s considered one of the good young pitchers in the game. Against the Orioles, however, his ERA is full run higher at 4.50. Past performance doesn’t guarantee future success of course, and for much of this game it looked like Archer was in control. That was in spite of the cold, rainy conditions that seemed to affect both him and Jimenez to a certain degree.
With the rain pouring down in the third inning, Archer gave up a one-out double to Seth Smith and then lost the strike zone, walking both Adam Jones and Manny Machado. Chris Davis, who has looked kind of lost lately, hit a ground ball that the first baseman Dickerson got a glove on but couldn’t field cleanly. One run came in but the Orioles couldn’t get more in the inning.
Finally, in the sixth inning, the Orioles bats broke through via their favorite weapon: the home run. Hyun Soo Kim got the party started with his first home run of the season and Jonathan Schoop followed him with a solo shot of his own. It’s the third time this year the Orioles have gone back-to-back and all three times involved Schoop.
Archer started the seventh inning by hitting Seth Smith. Not a good idea to put a runner on for Adam Jones, who was having a good night with a single, double, and a walk. His night got a lot better in this at-bat as he crushed a ball to left field for his fourth home run of the year. That broke the tie and gave the Orioles a 5-3 lead. This team is pretty good, huh?
And they weren’t done yet! A double and a wild pitch put birthday boy Welington Castillo on third base in the eighth with no outs when play was interrupted by a rain delay. It didn’t last too long, however, and Castillo came in on a sacrifice fly from Schoop.
Once the Orioles tied the game in the sixth inning, Buck Showalter turned to his bullpen stalwarts to close things out. Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart, and Brad Brach closed out the game easily with Brach recording his fourth save of the season.
O’s win, 6-3! They added a half-game to their lead in the standings with both the Yankees and Red Sox having an off day. They will be back in action tomorrow (weather permitting) with Wade Miley facing Jake Odorizzi.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Monday, April 24th?
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Adam Jones (single, double, walk, go-ahead 2-run homer)
Vidal Nuno (put out Ubaldo’s fire, pitched 2.2 scoreless innings)
Jonathan Schoop (game-tying HR, sac fly)