NEW YORK - Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez already has thrown 35 pitches and faced 10 batters tonight in two innings. The Yankees already have stolen two bases in two attempts. They also loaded the bases with one out in the second.
The fact that Jimenez has surrendered only one run feels like a small victory.
Brett Gardner flied to center field in the second, and Adam Jones threw out Carlos Beltran at the plate to end the threat.
The Orioles have 15 outfield assists, including three by Jones.
Jimenez retired the first two Yankees he faced tonight, including a strikeout of Brett Gardner. However, Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an infield hit, stole second and scored on Mark Teixeira’s double to right field.
Teixeira was 1-for-16 against Jimenez before tonight.
Jimenez threw 18 pitches in the inning, 12 for strikes.
Catcher Nick Hundley couldn’t get a proper grip on the ball on Ellsbury’s steal and basically threw a pop up into shallow center field.
Jimenez ran into more trouble in the second, loading the bases on a double by Beltran, single by Brian Roberts and walk to No. 9 hitter Yangervis Solarte. Roberts, who stole second before the walk, has 1,500 career hits.
The Yankees have only one run. Go figure.
The Orioles don’t have a hit off Hiroki Kuroda through three innings, but Hundley reached with two outs in the third on shortstop Derek Jeter’s throwing error.
I heard he’s retiring after the season. Jeter, I mean.
Earlier today, I talked to Zach Britton about his transition to closer. He’s made it look simple, judging by his 0.72 ERA and nine saves in 10 chances.
In his last five outings, Britton has allowed one hit, walked one and struck out five in five innings, facing the minimum number of batters in that span. He hasn’t surrendered an earned run in his last eight appearances over nine innings, walking two and striking out 10.
Britton has allowed one earned run over his last 21 games covering 22 2/3 innings.
“I don’t know about easy, but I think it’s just getting used to be a reliever this year,” Britton said. “I think everything’s just, going out and having another good inning or two innings or whatever I’m needed for. I haven’t really put too much thought into what inning I’m throwing. It’s all about just getting a routine established as a reliever. It just happens that I’ve been throwing the ninth inning and not trying to change anything I’ve done when throwing in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning.
“You have an idea you’re going to throw late in the game, so you can kind of start your routine in a specific inning now, where you know when you’re probably going to get in, but it’s the same mindset as I had before. Obviously, you know outs are a little more important, so you pick your spots where maybe you need to be more aggressive and stuff like that. You’ve got to make them earn their way on later in the game because you don’t want to give them any free outs.”
Britton easily shook off his only blown save on May 27 in Milwaukee, which came while pitching for the third consecutive night.
“I think with a reliever, it’s just turning the page quickly,” he said. “The nice thing about being a reliever is you have that chance to come back and pitch the next day. As a starter, you kind of sit here and you’re frustrated for a couple days before you’re able to get back on the mound. And that’s one thing I like about being a reliever. And it makes you turn the page, whether you have a bad outing, whether it’s a save situation or not. If you have a bad outing, you have to turn the page knowing there’s a chance that you’ll get in the next day.”
What about his chances of making the All-Star team?
It’s easier to be chosen as a reliever if you’re a ninth-inning specialist.
“I haven’t really looked into it,” Britton said. “I don’t even know how that goes to vote or whatever. It would be neat, but at the same time I’m just looking forward to continuing to have some success, getting more comfortable in the role that I’m in right now and not really worrying about that stuff. It’s like in the minors. If that’s something you’re able to do and people think you’re deserving of it, then it’s a nice thing, but it’s not something you get too wrapped up in.”
Update: Kuroda still hasn’t allowed a hit in five innings. Hundley reached on an error and Nelson Cruz walked. That’s it.
This is the third time that the Orioles have been held without a hit through five innings (Danny Duffy and Brandon Workman). They lost those games, 1-0. Same score as tonight.
Kuroda has thrown 83 pitches in five innings. Jimenez has thrown 61 pitches through the fourth.