Ubaldo Jimenez was among five pitchers last night who threw at least seven innings and gave up two hits or fewer, joining Boston’s Joe Kelly, Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson and Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer.
According to Elias, it’s the highest total since Sept. 23, 2000, when the list included Atlanta’s Greg Maddux, Cleveland’s Bartolo Colon, Oakland’s Kevin Appier, the Dodgers’ Kevin Brown and Pittsburgh’s Dan Serafini.
T.J. McFarland started for Triple-A Norfolk last night, allowing four runs in 3 1/3 innings. He deflected a bouncer with his pitching hand in the fourth and faced only two more batters before leaving the game, but it likely was due to his pitch count.
McFarland will stay in Norfolk’s rotation to make him an option for the Orioles as a starter later this season.
Asked whether the Orioles want McFarland to get his feet wet in this role, manager Buck Showalter posed his own question.
“What’s next to that, soaking wet? He’s been a starter at Triple-A in Columbus with the Indians, but we’re trying to get him back acclimated to that a little bit,” Showalter said. “Yeah, I’d like to see him make some starts down there.
“I’m hoping there’s not, but there will be, a need for what Mac has to offer this year. I think it’s a really good experience for him because he has the potential to be one of our starters down the road. It’s a good chance for him to work on the changeup and the breaking ball, which is going to be the separator for him. We know that he can make the ball sink and keep it on the ground a lot. The other things will put him on another level, so working on that down there.
“It’s just so tough down there because you’ll make pitches that you know you wouldn’t get by with up here. I tell all of them when they go out, ‘You’ve got to hold yourself to a high standard. You’ll make a pitch that you’ll get away with down there.’ The caliber of hitters they face up here compared to the caliber of hitters there, it’s the biggest jump in the level of competition in any sport, I think.
“That’s why it’s so hard to evaluate and that’s why it’s so good to have guys like R.J. (Ron Johnson) and Griff (Mike Griffin) down there that can go, ‘Yeah, this guy’s got good numbers, but it won’t play there.’ Or, ‘This guy’s got bad numbers, but it will play there.’ “
McFarland obviously would prefer to pitch in the majors, but Showalter sensed that the left-hander was excited to be a starter again. He has made 113 starts in the minors among his 123 appearances.
“I wasn’t surprised because that’s just how Mac is and why we like him, but he was very upbeat about going down there,” Showalter said. “All these guys do fashion themselves as a starter. Whether it be Brian Matusz, whether it be Tommy Hunter, whether it be McFarland. Who knows? Maybe it lurks in the back of Zach (Britton’s) mind. But why is that? Pays a little better? You would, too.
“Of course, it pays better to be in the big leagues as a reliever than in the minor leagues as a starter.”
“I think he knows this is kind of an in and out,” Showalter said. “I hope it is.”