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Orioles lose 81st game, guarantee non-winning season

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Ubaldo Jimenez is wrapping up his Orioles career in a predictably bad fashion

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Orioles sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound to night for his 104th start for the team since he signed four years ago. It, like so many other starts he has made, did not go well. A second-inning grand slam was enough to put the Orioles in a hole from which they could not recover as the Rays went on to win 8-3.

The loss is the 81st of the season for the Orioles, thus guaranteeing they will not post a winning season in 2017. If they want to go 81-81 and avoid a non-losing season, they will have to to run the table and go 7-0 to finish the season. I am going to go out on a limb and say that’s not going to happen, which is sad. Losing seasons are sad.

Anyway, back to tonight’s game. Jimenez had himself a very nice first inning, but that was where the good news ends for him. He started the second inning by hitting Logan Morrison, then two ground ball hits sneaked through the infield to load the bases. That set up a grand slam by Wilson Ramos that gave the Rays a 4-0 lead.

Poor Ubaldo. Poor us. It’s been a long four years watching him pitch. The third inning was another slog as Ubaldo threw, let’s say, 100 pitches. That may be an exaggeration, but he did give up two more runs. The third inning was his last and he exited with a pitching line of 3 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. He threw 62 pitches, but he didn’t walk anyone so...silver lining?

As we all know, Jimenez’s contract with the Orioles mercifully comes to an end when this season is over. Tonight was in all likelihood the last start of Ubaldo’s Orioles career, so the fact that it was just terrible seems almost appropriate. He will finish his Orioles career with an ERA over 5, which is amazing. But not in the good way.

Another soon-to-be free agent, Alex Cobb, made the start for the Rays. He was much better than Jimenez. Just after getting a four-run lead from his teammates, Cobb got himself into trouble in the second inning. Singles from Adam Jones and Trey Mancini and walk by Chris Davis loaded the bases with no outs for rookie Austin Hays. Hays hit the first pitch he saw for a deep fly ball that scored Jones from third.

A second run scored on a wild pitch, but neither Pedro Alvarez nor Caleb Joseph could do anything at the plate. They wasted another opportunity in the third inning when they had three straight one-out singles from Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, and Adam Jones. Unfortunately third base coach Bobby Dickerson waved in Machado when Jones singled to shallow left field and was thrown out by a mile.

On TV, Jim Palmer seemed to blame Manny for not scoring from second base, saying that he didn’t have a good secondary lead. But regardless of if his lead should have been better, Dickerson knew where the ball was, where the fielder was, and where Machado was. That was, in my opinion, on Dickerson. (If you’re reading this Jim Palmer, I love you!)

The third and final run for the Orioles came in the fourth inning when Chris Davis hit his 25th home run of the season. Davis has been pretty awful this year but that home run was a reminder of how lovely and effortless his swing can be when he connects. Too bad it doesn’t happen more often these days.

The overworked Orioles bullpen took over for Jimenez starting in the fourth inning. First up was Miguel Castro, who has been terrible of late. Castro got through the fourth without incident thanks to a double play ball, but wasn’t as lucky in the fifth. A walk and a double knocked in the seventh run for the Rays.

Both Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens put up a scoreless appearances for the Orioles, then Buck Showalter turned to Donnie Hart to start the ninth inning. It did not go well. Hart grazed Kevin Kiermaier’s pant leg with a pitch, then gave up an RBI double to Lucas Duda.

That run didn’t really matter. It was a lost game in a lost season. But when making the play Adam Jones came up lame and had to take awhile to get himself together. He’s been having trouble with his legs for some time, and it just didn’t make sense to me that he didn’t come out of the game right there. No need to keep him in there when there are plenty of options on the bench. Are they as good as Jones? Probably not. But at this point who cares?

After the Davis home run in the fourth inning, the offense was unable to put anything else together. Former Oriole Tommy Hunter struck out the side in the eighth inning, so that was something. Good for him.

The Orioles lose. They continue their four-game series with the Rays tomorrow with Jeremy Hellickson facing Jake Odorizzi. If they lose, it will be their 82nd loss of the season and their first 82nd loss since the 2011 season.