After all his recent struggles - struggles that sent him to the Orioles bullpen for an outing - right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez badly needed to pitch well tonight. He did, allowing two runs in six innings in the Orioles’ 7-2 win over San Diego.
Did he feel pressure to pitch well tonight?
“I just wanted to get the job done for sure,” Jimenez said. “There is no more pressure than that. As a pitcher, I know I have been struggling before I got sent down to the bullpen. But I always try to find a way to survive and get back on my feet.
“It was big. It felt really good to finally give the team a chance to win. Being able to go six innings, it felt good. One of the most exciting things about baseball is you get a chance to start a new thing.”
With an ERA of 11.47 over his past seven games, Jimenez took the mound tonight and quickly allowed a run three batters into the game. But he got out of that first inning without any more runs scoring. Then he ended his outing striking out the last four batters he faced.
“It gave me confidence (to finish the first well),” he said. “The first run, I think I made a couple of good pitches, but they were able to find a hole. I just kept my head up and just kept going. Yeah, that was really good (to finish strong). I was able to throw the pitches where I wanted to and (Matt) Wieters was calling a great game. It was good to finish that way.”
Jimenez had allowed 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings in his two most recent appearances. Did he making any tweaks or changes coming into this start?
“Not really. The approach was going back to basics. See the target, get the ball and go after hitters,” he said.
Jimenez improves to 4-7 with an ERA of 6.97 on the season. In 14 career starts versus San Diego, he is now 8-4 with an ERA of 3.87.
Here’s more from the clubhouse:
Jonathan Schoop on Jimenez: “He attacked the zone and threw strikes. It was really big, I’m happy for him. This is big, every win is a big win.”
Schoop on his recent hot hitting: “Just trying to get better. Trying to get a routine going and be better than I was last year. He (hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh) has helped me a lot and kept me on my routine. Got to focus more and don’t back off on it.”
Adam Jones on Padres starter Erik Johnson: “He was aggressive and he was in the strike zone. We were able to square some balls up. He didn’t run away from anybody. Tip my cap to him. He came out and threw strike after strike.”
Jones on what Jimenez did better tonight: “Strike one - most important pitch in baseball. When you get strike one, it allows your defense to be with you. He was aggressive, making them put the ball in play. Use this good defense that we have and chances are good things will happen. Couldn’t be happier. He went out there and competed. That’s all we ask.”
Zach Britton on pitching with a five-run lead in the ninth: “We talked about it. I’ve been kind of sporadic. Three days, four days off. Hadn’t thrown back-to-back in maybe a month. So I’d definitely felt kind of rusty the last few outings. So I’d like to get a back-to-back. I didn’t go and tell him (manager Buck Showalter) I wanted to throw, but he and Dom (Chiti) and Dave (Wallace) talked about it and I felt like I was a little bit sharper today. Still some room to kind of knock off the rust a little bit, but a lot better going forward. It was nice to get back out there and I’ll be ready for this Tampa series.”
Tonight’s win was the 1,000th for the Orioles in Camden Yards history, counting the playoffs. They are now 1,000-959 (.510) all-time at Oriole Park. Schoop is 11-for-21 his last five games and batting .320 with four homers and 14 RBIs in June. Mark Trumbo went 3-for-4 with his 21st homer after batting just .154 (4-for-26) his previous eight games.