BOSTON - If the benches empty tonight at Fenway Park, it’s only because both teams realize they have an 11 a.m. game the following morning and are in a rush to get out of there.
Seriously, who made up this schedule?
What’s next, a night game at Camden Yards followed by breakfast at Wimbledon?
It’s probably too soon to put heavy emphasis on a start, but Ubaldo Jimenez could use a quality one. He’s 0-3 with a 7.31 ERA in his first three outings, with 13 runs and 23 hits in 16 innings. He’s walked 10 and surrendered four home runs. He’s disappointing a fan base that expected more for $50 million.
Jimenez has a career 5.21 ERA in March/April. Manager Buck Showalter isn’t big on the notion that a player’s track record dictates that his stats will “be there” at the end of the season. Who can realistically make that guarantee? But the Orioles are counting on it after another one of Jimenez’s slow starts.
I talked to a scout from outside the organization recently who wondered how Jimenez ever finds the strike zone with a delivery that seemingly requires 27 moves just to get to his release point. The ball starts out low and takes a few paths before eventually moving above his head. And his front foot won’t always hit the same spot.
But this delivery also explains why so many hitters are baffled by him, why they can’t find the ball and can’t get comfortable in the box.
A more compact delivery makes it easier to hit the target, but plenty of guys with compact deliveries get lit up.
Anyway, Jimenez could use a quality start tonight, but will he find it against a team that’s pinned a 10.27 ERA on him in five career starts? His best outing as an Oriole actually came against Boston on April 2, when he allowed four runs in six innings. Mike Napoli and David Ortiz took him deep.
Jimenez has made one start in Fenway Park, allowing seven runs and nine hits and walking five in 4 1/3 innings.
He really could use a quality start tonight.
Dustin Pedroia is 7-for-15 lifetime against Jimenez and remains a royal pain in the butt to the Orioles. Pesky stopped being cute a long time ago. Napoli is 4-for-7 with a double and two home runs. Daniel Nava is 3-for-8 with three doubles.
The Red Sox will counter with Jake Peavy, who’s allowed four runs and struck out 20 batters in 18 2/3 innings this season. He’s 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts against the Orioles, with three walks and 23 strikeouts in 20 innings.
J.J. Hardy has the most at-bats against Peavy. He’s 1-for-17.
I’d still sign him to an extension. Just saying...
Seriously, give me an infield of Hardy at shortstop, Manny Machado at third base, Jonathan Schoop at second and Chris Davis at first, and I’ll take my chances against any team in baseball. But I digress.
Davis is 0-for-5 against Peavy. He’s also in a 5-for-26 slump over his last eight games - with three RBIs and 12 strikeouts - and he’s stuck on one home run this season.
On the positive side of the ledger, he’s reached base safely in 15 straight games after being hit by a Felix Doubront pitch yesterday.
The Orioles are still waiting for both benches to be issued warnings after that one.
Nick Markakis has three straight multi-hit games and is batting .290. He’s 3-for-8 lifetime against Peavy.
Note: The Tigers announced that they released infielder Alex Gonzalez, acquired from the Orioles late in spring training for infielder Steve Lombardozzi.
How do you like that trade now?
Gonzalez was 5-for-30 and committed three errors in nine games at shortstop.