TORONTO - Orioles manager Buck Showalter was not going to make any decisions or announce them today. If right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will lose his rotation spot after his latest poor outing, Showalter was not going to make that call today.
But today Jimenez got hammered and got just one out, allowing six hits and five runs as the Orioles lost 10-9 to Toronto. It was a day where they hit five homers and lost for the first time when scoring nine or more runs since July 27, 2012 versus Oakland. It was the first time they lost when hitting five or more homers since Aug. 28, 2007.
I asked Chris Davis the obvious question - how tough is it to score so much, yet lose?
“Absolutely (it is tough),” Davis said. “Our job as an offense is to go out there and score runs. We can’t worry about the pitching staff. We can’t worry about anything but going out and doing our job. And that is what we’re focused on. It’s a tough stretch but we have confidence in our guys that they will bounce back and make the adjustments they need to make.”
Entering with an ERA of 6.21, Jimenez got just one out as the O’s trailed 5-0 after an inning. It was the shortest outing of his career, two outs less than the one inning he went July 30, 2011 for Colorado against San Diego.
I asked Showalter if Jimenez will make his next start.
“I know it is a question you have to ask,” he said. “You’re watching the same games I am. This has been probably his longest stretch of him not being as good as he’s capable of being. We look at it after every start for everybody. And will continue to do that. He knows it’s not good enough. He knows that.
“It was a tough hole to dig out of on the road. But there was good energy in the dugout. Got some good innings for the most part out of (Vance) Worley, who kept us engaged in the game. I took him about as far as we could take him. Obviously if we didn’t have an off day tomorrow, we couldn’t have done some things that we had to do today. You get those type of starts, liked we’ve had so far, it really taxes your bullpen. I’m not going to let them become unhealthy. Just not going to let it happen.”
What is going wrong for Jimenez, who is now 3-7 with an ERA of 6.89?
“Two issues. His stuff is not very crisp and he can’t command the baseball right now,” Showalter said. “That is a bad combination. We are supposed to hit targets and he is missing the width of the plate. Stuff isn’t very crisp. That is a bad combination against a good hitting team.”
Here is Jimenez’s take on his struggles: “I think they got me right away. It wasn’t like I was walking guys or anything. They came out swinging. I think I fell behind in the count a couple times and they hit it hard. Even when I was ahead in the count, I threw a couple of good pitches and they found a way to hit a double.
“Maybe location. I feel like I was falling behind in the count and I left a couple pitches up. I think I threw two good pitches and they were able to hit them for doubles. They came out swinging right away. They did good. They hit the ball the opposite way. They didn’t try to pull it.”
Is he concerned about losing his rotation spot?
“The only thing I can control is keep working hard, regardless of worries or how It’s going to be,” Jimenez said. “I have to find a way to find myself and try to help the team, whatever it is. I don’t have any control in that. It’s the worst feeling for a pitcher, not being able to go past the first inning. I let the team down. I couldn’t help the team at all. I put them in a big hole right away for the relievers, the offense, everything, so it’s just disappointing. Keep fighting. That’s the only thing I have to do. I don’t know what’s going to be next, but I’m going to keep fighting. That’s the only thing. I’m not going to give up.”
Showalter is very aware, as anyone can see, that pitching every fifth day right now is not working for Jimenez.
“It hasn’t. It hasn’t,” Showalter said. “The problem with the American League and the American League East, you put someone in that bullpen, they have to be effective there too. We had a chance in that ballgame because Vance Worley threw 60 pitches and got us to the fifth inning. So, you put somebody down there, you have to feel capable they can do that job too. There’s not people in the bullpen.
“You know we are not going to continue to not get...we have to look at other possibilities. But if we do something he is going to hear about it from us long before he reads about it.”
Davis today hit yet another home run at Rogers Centre, his fourth in four games in this series. His 16 homers in Toronto since 2012 are the most by any Blue Jays opponent.
“I couldn’t tell you,” Davis said when asked why he hits so well here. “I think if it was that easy, you know everybody would be doing it. I think we swung the bat well this series. We’ll have a day off tomorrow and take some time to enjoy a quick break and get back after it.”
Davis has now homered in five consecutive games. In that stretch he is 7-for-17 with five homers and 10 RBIs. The last Oriole to homer in five straight games was Caleb Joseph from Aug. 2 to Aug. 9, 2014. Davis is the last to homer in six in a row from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, 2012. The only other Oriole to ever homer in six straight games was Reggie Jackson from July 18-23, 1976.