The Orioles (40-34) have won 17 of their last 22 games and are a season-high six above .500.
Jimenez tied his high for innings as an Oriole - it also happened on June 30, 2014 against the Rangers - and didn’t walk a batter for the third start this season. He’s won four consecutive starts while improving to 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA.
Fans rose to their feet and gave Jimenez a loud ovation after the eighth, a stark contrast to the receptions during his miserable 2014 campaign.
“He pitched some good games last year, too. It wasn’t like everything was a struggle,” said manager Buck Showalter. “In year’s past, a 4-something ERA would have been good enough. But we’re getting to see the guy we thought Ubaldo could be. A lot of strike ones, a lot of movement and taking advantage of the counts.
“I really feel good for him, though, because when we were trying to decide about pitching today, he’s one of our best conditioned pitchers. He’s got a pretty good track record in day games.”
Is Jimenez reaching elite status?
“Well, he’s pitching that way,” Showalter replied. “He’s not ever going to take anything for granted. When he pitches a good game, he’s right back in his work habit, working with Wally (Dave Wallace) and Dom (Chiti). He’s been going at it since the last pitch he threw last year, really. We felt like it was there. We’ll see what the season takes.
“I feel great for him. He was a welcome addition. Once again, he pitched some good games for us last year in big spots.”
Jimenez walked at least one batter in every start last season, but he’s pounding the strike zone in 2015. The exception was a June 6 start in Cleveland when he walked six batters in five innings.
“When he came into spring and really starting the offseason, it was about commanding the fastball,” Showalter said. “No one had to tell him that. It was underneath the Captain Obvious. He knew what was different. Keep in mind at one point this guy was one of, if not the best pitcher in baseball for an extended period of time. You don’t lose that pedigree overnight.”
Jimmy Paredes homered, doubled and walked twice to raise his average to .326.
“Jimmy’s putting a lot of good swings on any mistake,” Showalter said. “He’s aggressive. He walked twice today, too. When you see that combination, he’s going to be a real weapon for us.”
Adam Jones started in center field for the first time since June 15 and didn’t appear to experience any discomfort in his right shoulder. He went 0-for-4.
“He’s not going to tell anybody,” Showalter said. “I like the fact that he’s throwing and then sitting down for a while and coming back and throwing again, and he didn’t feel anything. I haven’t gotten anything from him since the game ended, but I didn’t see anything that made me cautious.”
The Indians now face the pressure of avoiding a sweep while sending Toru Murata to the mound in his major league debut.
“There are two real hard games to win in the season - the first game of a doubleheader and then the second one when you’ve lost the first one,” Showalter said. “Nobody likes playing doubleheaders. A lot of people if they were honest would tell you when they got out of bed they’d take a split and move on, but I’m not going to go there. We’ve got a chance now to roll the dice in the second one. But we’ve got some unknown with their starting pitcher. We’ve got some work to do still.”
The Orioles posted their 5,000th win since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954.
“I heard it just as we were finishing up,” Showalter said. “We don’t take a backseat to many organizations. In my mind we don’t take a backseat to any of them. We’ve got plenty of stats and plenty of milestones and today was one of them.”