CLEVELAND - Being swept by the Indians for the first time since 2011 is no way to stay in the playoff hunt.
The Orioles are mathematically alive. The numbers don’t lie. But no one inside the visiting clubhouse last night at Progressive Field pretended that a four-game losing streak wasn’t harmful.
Going 27-42 on the road is no way to push past the teams ahead of them in the wild card chase. It’s going to be highlighted if the Orioles can’t extend their season beyond Oct. 1.
The trip now takes the Orioles to Rogers Centre in Toronto, where they’re 5-2 this season. They’re 11-5 versus the Blue Jays.
Jiménez, rescued again from the bullpen, tossed eight scoreless innings in Toronto on June 29. He allowed only two hits, walked one and struck out eight in a 2-0 victory. His ERA dropped from 7.26 to 6.48.
But here’s what tends to happen with Jiménez: He allowed five runs, including three homers, and walked three batters over five innings in a 6-2 loss to the Brewers. He gave up four runs and walked four batters over five innings in his next start in Minnesota. And over his next two outings, he allowed a combined 12 runs and 21 hits over nine innings in losses to the Cubs and Astros.
His ERA was back up to 7.19 and speculation began to percolate again that the Orioles might eat the remainder of his contract.
Jiménez is still an Oriole as the season moves into its final weeks. The last weeks of the four-year, $50 million deal he signed on Feb. 19, 2014.
Jiménez is 8-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 19 career games (17 starts) against the Blue Jays and 3-3 with a 4.89 ERA in eight starts (seven games) at Rogers Centre. And yes, there’s also the walk-off home run in last year’s wild card game.
Jose Bautista is 3-for-41 (.073) with 13 strikeouts against Jiménez. Josh Donaldson is 6-for-32 (.188) with a double, triple, home run and 10 strikeouts. Justin Smoak is 2-for-24 (.083) with a home run and 12 strikeouts.
Michael Saunders, who drew interest from the Orioles over the winter, signed with the Phillies and was released on June 23, is 9-for-21 (.429) with a double and four home runs.
What else can be said about Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada, who’s making his fifth start against the Orioles this year?
Estrada is 2-0 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.208 WHIP against the Orioles in 25 2/3 innings this season and 6-1 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.132 WHIP in 14 career appearances.
Manny Machado is 3-for-26 (.115) with a home run against Estrada. Chris Davis is 5-for-28 (.179) with three home runs and Jonathan Schoop is 6-for-29 (.207) with a double, two home runs and 10 strikeouts.
Welington Castillo is 9-for-35 (.257), but he has four home runs.
Right-handers are hitting .283 against Estrada this season and left-handers are hitting .233, reverse splits that are typical with him and could open the door for Austin Hays to make his second major league start. The Orioles won’t face a left-hander in this series.