BALTIMORE—It wasn’t until Friday morning that the Orioles finally made their choice for a starting pitcher official. Ubaldo Jimenez got the start, and he delivered an awful one.
Jimenez faced 11 batters and seven of them reached. After the seventh got on, Jimenez was out of the game, and the questions will begin about his future with the club.
Will he put in the bullpen once again? Will the club eat the approximately $20 million left on his four-year, $50 million contract.
Jimenez allowed five runs in 1 1/3 innings as the Orioles lost to the Los Angeles Angels 9-3 before 44,317 unhappy fans at Oriole Park on Friday night.
The large crowd gathered to honor the 1966 World Series champions, and not an hour after they cheered loudly for Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and Boog Powell, they booed nearly as loud when Jimenez teetered.
Jimenez has had a horrible stretch where he’s failed to complete even two innings in three of his last eight starts.
“There’s no doubt about it, this is the toughest thing that I have had to face,” Jimenez said. “I have to keep going, keep working hard and hopefully find something that’s going to get me out of this thing.”
The Angels (37-50), who have won four straight, didn’t have an extra-base hit off Jimenez (5-9), who gave up five singles and walked two.
“We had tried to put him in the bullpen, see if we could work some things out there. But necessity put him back in there, so we'll attack it after the break,” manager Buck Showalter said.
With the loss, the Orioles (49-36) saw their AL East cut to one game over Toronto.
Mike Wright, who was another option to start, was called up on Friday from Norfolk and struggled as well, filling the bases in the third with none out when he hit two batters and walked one.
A run scored, and Chaz Roe began warming up. Wright got out of the inning when Yunel Escobar hit a grounder back to the mound, and he began a double play.
Wright soldiered through the sixth. His 4 2/3 innings were the second longest by an Orioles reliever this season. In the fourth, two runs scored on a pair of errors from the normally sure handed J.J. Hardy. It was the first time he’d made multiple errors in a game since June 5, 2014 when he made three. In his first 39 games this season, Hardy made just two miscues.
A third hit batter, C.J. Cron, who was hit for the second time, led to a ninth run. Cron suffered a fracture in his left hand and will be reevaluated on Monday.
“Mike had some struggles too. That's why we were trying to leave him alone down there if we could, but it's necessary to have somebody who could provide some length,” Showalter said.
Matt Shoemaker (4-9), allowed three runs in five-plus innings, and after Cam Bedrosian relieved him, he hit Jonathan Schoop on the batting helmet, earning a warning to both benches by home plate umpire Mike Everitt.
Adam Jones led off the first with his 17th home run of the year and Manny Machado nearly had one, but Daniel Nava in left leaped high and robbed him of one. According to ESPN, the Orioles have had seven home runs taken away. No other team has more than two.
Jonathan Schoop hit his 13th home run in the fourth, and Mark Trumbo’s RBI single in the sixth made it 9-3. Mark Trumbo’s two run, two out homer in the ninth, his 27th, made the final score 9-5.
Jimenez remains popular for his work ethic.
“He’s a professional, and that’s the thing. He knows. Every day he shows up here, he’s going to do what he can to help the team win, he’s going to do what he can to get himself better. He knows that he wants to pitch better. He wants to pitch better for the team, and we want him to pitch better,” Matt Wieters said.
“He comes here, works every day, and like I said, we’re all rooting for him to get it turned around and go out there and pitch like we know he can.”
NOTES: Darren O’Day threw on flat ground and will do so again on Sunday. He’ll head to Sarasota, Fla. during the break and meet the team in Tampa Bay when it resumes play on July 15. … Jones’ leadoff home run was the Orioles first on a first pitch since Brian Roberts did it on July 31, 2007. … Jones has 210 home runs with the Orioles, passing Brady Anderson for sixth on the all-time home run list. … Yovani Gallardo (3-1, 6.10) faces Nick Tropecano (3-2, 3.28) on Saturday at 4:05 p.m.