SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles still haven’t won a spring training game. But, at least Ubaldo Jimenez delivered a strong start.
Jimenez, who retired only one batter in his first start while allowing six runs, rebounded with the Orioles’ first three-inning outing of the spring against the Minnesota Twins
He allowed a leadoff double to Byron Buxton and a second inning walk to Oswaldo Arcia while striking out three.
While the starting pitching was better, the offense wasn’t. The Orioles had just six hits—all singles—and lost to the Twins 3-0 before 6,121 at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday.
The Orioles have lost seven straight and are 0-7-1 this month.
Before Monday’s game, manager Buck Showalter said that he thought there would be fewer runs scored than in previous ones because the wind was blowing in.
The Orioles had allowed 21 runs in their previous two home games.
Another unpleasant streak continued. Hyun Soo Kim was hitless in two at-bats, and the South Korean is 0-for-18 in American baseball.’
“I thought Kim hit the ball hard twice today,” Showalter said.
Kim is making the difficult adjustment, and must learn U.S. pitchers and play left field in difficult ballparks.
Showalter is trying his best to counsel Kim.
“We all do. We have. It’s not like we haven’t,” Showalter said. “Everybody’s trying to make his path easy. He’s got to cooperate a little bit. He will.”
Kim, who has struck out three times in 18 at-bats, has yet to walk.
“It’s tough for him. You try to have some empathy for it, but there’s a lot of time. He’ll get it going,” Showalter said.
You can tell his reactions when he hits the ball hard and they catch it…We’ve got a lot of time. He’ll get it going at some point.”
The Orioles have a huge investment in Kim. While the $7 million salary over two years isn’t enormous, they already have a large question in right field, and they thought their left field quandary was answered when he signed.
“The thing that allows you to make an easier transition is being able to perform at this level,” Showalter said.
Jimenez was relieved after his quick outing against Minnesota. It reminded him of last spring training when he struggled in his first outing before improving the rest of the way.
“It felt like every time to the mound I was able to command the fastball and get ahead and stay ahead. That’s what I did today,” Jimenez said.
“Every time you go out there you are working on something, but at the same time you want to see a result. Because that’s going to make you more comfortable, more confident when the season comes. You know you are going to be able to go out there and compete and be there for your team.”
Jimenez was the Orioles’ leading winner a year ago when he won 12.
“He was one of our most consistent pitchers. You could make the case that he was last year and it’s good to see him have a good outing,” Showalter said.
Minnesota starter Phil Hughes sped through his three innings. He needed only 26 pitches to retire the Orioles.
Most of the Orioles regulars have gotten few at-bats in the first week of spring training. They’ve played only three home games, and Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters have combined for just 39 at-bats. None has played on the road.
Of the regulars, only Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo, who both played at Dunedin against the Toronto Blue Jays last Friday, has gone on the road.
Kim has played in four road games, but that’s because Showalter wants to acclimate him to American baseball. Kim and Rule 5 draft choice Joey Rickard have by far the most at-bats.
This week, the Orioles play four home games, and Showalter thinks the team will respond better.
Yovani Gallardo will pitch on Wednesday in Clearwater against Philadelphia, and Chris Tillman throws in a “B” game with the Pirates on Thursday morning.
Showalter says that pitching Tillman and Kevin Gausman against Pittsburgh instead of against the New York Yankees isn’t designed to keep Tillman away from the American League East.
“I’m not a big proponent of that completely. This fits real well. It has nothing to do with playing a team in our division that day. It’s that we can control the environment the first time out,” Showalter said.
NOTES: Miguel Gonzalez pitches against Boston’s Roenis Elias on Tuesday as the Orioles play back-to-back home games. … Showalter said that Brian Matusz, who is out with a back injury is improving nicely.