HOUSTON - There may come a point during the 2014 season when the Orioles are clicking on all cylinders. Quality starts, an abundance of runs and a string of easy victories.
For now, it seems to be one or the other.
Ubaldo Jimenez escaped enough jams tonight to hold the Astros to one run over six innings, but the Orioles were unable to do much at the plate in a 3-1 loss at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros have won six in a row.
“He deserved a better fate, but we knew coming in here that they were playing some of their best baseball of the year and a lot of it revolves around how good their starting pitching’s been,” Showalter said. “Runs were going to be at a premium. You know there’s going to be a fine margin of error. With the exception of a couple of guys, we’re not swinging the bats real well, but then one day we’ll break out and score seven or eight runs.
“I feel better about the pitching tonight. The only good thing about losing it you don’t have to pitch the ninth inning, so hopefully we can get back on our feet. We’ve got some guys who needed a little blow, getting in last last night. It’s been a challenge.
“It’s not always going to click together. You’re hoping one part of the game is good enough to offset the others, and we have for the most part. I have a lot of confidence that our best baseball is ahead of us. Tonight we just didn’t swing the bats well enough. Ubaldo deserved a better fate.”
Preston Guilmet hadn’t allowed a run or hit in six innings with the Orioles, but he served up George Springer’s two-run shot in the seventh that broke a 1-1 tie.
“Just one (pitch), the pitch he left out over the plate didn’t quite have the bite it has,” Showalter said. “I like to see how guys respond. I know he’s down there, but he comes right back and gets some outs and gets us back in the dugout.
“We had a shot. We just didn’t mount a whole lot. We had one semi-opportunity there and couldn’t do anything with it. I think we out-hit them, but the walks and the hit by pitch, you add that, too.”
Adding to the night’s frustration was the call at the plate on Jimenez’s wild pitch in the second inning. Jason Castro scored on the play, but the Orioles think it should have been overturned.
The review lasted 4 minutes, 25 seconds and left the Orioles puzzled by the result.
“He’s out,” Showalter said. “I’m not sure what they’re looking at. I’ll show you what we looked at. That’s probably the third time that’s happened. It’s kind of frustrating. It puts umpires in a tough spot.
“I don’t know how you get much more conclusive than what we saw. But I don’t know what they’re looking at. They’re supposed to have the same look we have. It didn’t beat us.”
Jimenez was more demonstrative than usual as he pleaded his case with plate umpire Mike Muchlinski.
“He’s out,” Showalter said. “What are you going to do?”
Said Jimenez: “I’m pretty sure I had him because his cleat got caught on my glove. He almost made a hole in the glove. That’s what I was trying to show the umpire. He never touched home plate. I have the hole mark from his cleat on my glove.
“I knew for sure he didn’t touch home plate. It was my glove in front of home plate and his cleat got caught on it. It’s a tough play to call and they didn’t get it right, I guess.”
The Astros were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine. Jimenez kept bobbing and weaving each time they had him on the ropes.
“In a perfect world, you don’t want to get so many runners on base like I did, because anything can happen,” Jimenez said. “A blooper, a base hit and they’re going to score. But it’s part of the game. Once they get on base, you have to find a way to get them out.
“I tried to get a little bit deeper in the games. That’s always good. Hopefully, I get deeper than that in my next game. But it was pretty good. I was able to do that for the team, trying to keep the score close.”