Which Ubaldo Jimenez would show up July 4 in Milwaukee? Would the Orioles get their offense in gear? Those were the two big questions for Baltimore entering the second game of the series against the Brewers.
Jimenez (3-3, 6.48) took the mound for the 4ET Independence Day start against Jimmy Nelson (6-4, 3.43). Jimenez was coming off his best outing of what has been and up and down season, eight shutout innings and only two hits allowed in Toronto. Nelson, a big 28-year-old right handed pitcher that attended the University of Alabama, entered with 16 starts in 2017, 97 total innings and 104 strikeouts. He is an imposing 6’6, 250 pounds, and brings heat.
As we all know, the O’s have been middling and disappointing most of this season, particularly the last two months, while the Brewers (45-40) are one of the biggest surprises in baseball. They have a 2.5 game lead in the National League Central and have spent 44 days in first place.
Three good and one bad inning for Ubaldo to start
Milwaukee leads the National League with 73 first inning runs scored, so Ubaldo and the O’s had reason to be on guard early. Despite a one out walk, Jimenez got through the initial inning fine and looked relatively sharp.
After the uneventful first, it was a weird top of the second that looked promising for the O’s, but ended up being nothing. Adam Jones doubled down the third base line, Mark Trumbo followed with a blooper between second and right that was dropped by the second baseman, which would have put two on and no out. However, Jones was thrown out trying to go to third after the drop. Trey Mancini then hit into a double play, there was no rally, and the inning was over.
After a lead off walk in the bottom of the second, the wheels started to come off (or at least the lug nuts were loosening). New Brewers C Stephen Vogt hit a two-run homerun to right center. CF Keon Broxton followed with a bunt single, stole second, and scored on a single by SS Orlando Arcia. After two complete, it was 3-0 Milwaukee.
In the third, Jimenez flirted with danger again following a one out walk to RF Domingo Santana, a single against the shift to 3B Travis Shaw, but he ended up getting out of the inning.
For his part, through four, Jimmy Nelson had six strikeouts and was on his game. The first four innings were played in a crisp 60 minutes. Undoubtedly, the crazy shadows that take over Miller Park during day games making it hard for hitters had something to do with this.
Fifth inning tough luck; Bad Ubaldo emerges
In the fifth, it looked like the O’s might break through. With one out Mark Trumbo singled to center on a pitch in his eyes and Trey Mancini followed with a single to center on another ball that was up. Caleb Joseph who entered with a four-game hitting streak, smoked one to third, but it was right at Travis Shaw and Trumbo was doubled off second base. Tough break for a team trying to break through offensively.
Two fifth inning home runs from Eric Thames and Travis Shaw made it 5-0 and this was a movie O’s fans had seen before. Ubaldo was pinch hit for in the sixth. Got to love (or not) National League baseball. His final line was five innings pitched, 82 pitches, six hits, five runs, three walks and seven strikeouts. The three home runs he gave up was the big problem. Not a good start.
Seventh inning opportunity; Rickard comes through
Tyler Wilson replaced Jimenez in the sixth and retired the Brewers in order with two strikeouts.
In the top of the seventh, Manny Machado doubled down the first base line, All-Star Jonathan Schoop singled to left – just out of the reach of a leaping SS Orlando Arcia – and two were on with no out. Adam Jones chopped one to third, where Shaw got the force, but then his throw to first took Thames off the bag putting runners at second and third. Joey Rickard followed with a two-strike single, plating Schoop, Trey Mancini struck out and Caleb Joseph, after Rickard stole second, struck out swinging. The offensive drought and lack of timely hitting continued.
Wilson gives up a bomb; Offense isn’t much better
Eric Thames hit a rocket to right center over the Potawatomi Casino sign in the seventh off Tyler Wilson, his second homerun of the game, and it was 6-1. It was the third multi-homer game of the season for Thames. The game was turning into another blowout loss for the O’s. This seems to happen regularly.
In the eighth, Paul Janish, Hyun Soo Kim and Craig Gentry went down in order and Miguel Castro pitched a perfect inning for the Birds. The ninth inning saw Jonathan School hit homerun number 17 – a bomb to center – and Schoop had scored both runs on the day for Baltimore.
The loss sent the O’s record to 40-43. They have five games before the All-Star Break, one in Milwaukee and four in Minnesota.
Notes and Wednesday’s game
Mark Trumbo left Tuesday’s game with a left calf contusion.
Watching Ubaldo Jimenez pitch on July 4 brought back memories of when he became a United States citizen in September 2016. It’s a cool story detailed here on MLB.com.
The Brewers manager, Craig Counsell, played for Buck Showalter with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2000. Counsell was part of World Series champion teams in 1997 (Florida) and 2001 (Arizona). He graduated from the University of Notre Dame.
JJ Hardy played for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2005-10, six total seasons. Even though he’s on the disabled list, Hardy traveled with the team to Milwaukee.
Per numerous reports before Tuesday’s game, O’s closer Zach Britton will be activated on July 5.
Reports indicate that Chris Davis will return from the disabled list immediately after the All-Star Break. The Birds first series post-break is July 14-16 at OPACY against the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.
The O’s are a terrible 15-27 on the road this season.
Wednesday at 7:10ET, the O’s close the series in Milwaukee with Jayson Aquino – replacing Chris Tillman, who is on paternity leave – facing Matt Garza.