Ubaldo Jimenez has some ground to make up. After signing a four-year, $50 million contract to be one of the top pitchers in the Orioles rotation, Jimenez struggled throughout the first half of the season.
In 18 starts this season, Jimenez is 3-8 with a 4.52 ERA. To add, well, injury to insult, Jimenez found his way to the DL after stepping in a parking lot pothole and injuring his ankle before the All-Star break. It’s simply been a frustrating season for Jimenez.
However, Jimenez took the mound for the Aberdeen Ironbirds on Tuesday night in a rehab start, attempting rehab his body and image. In 4.2 innings of work, Jimenez allowed one unearned run on 75 pitches, five hits, three walks and three strikeouts.
Command was an issue for Jimenez throughout the night. He struggled to fool batters with his curveball and added a few walks to his total towards the end of his start. The Jimenez of old seemed to show more than a rejuvenated one. It won’t encourage Buck Showalter and company, who will have the task of figuring out where Jimenez will fit into a hot Orioles rotation.
Here’s the inning-by-inning breakdown of Jimenez’s start:
Jimenez started off strong with a perfect first inning. He forced a flyout to center field against the first batter and struck out the next two to end the inning. He tallied 15 pitches in the frame, topping out at 89 mph with his fastball.
In the second inning, Jimenez allowed a first-pitch bloop single to ValleyCats hitter Nick Tanielu. However, he forced a double play just two pitches later. He finished the inning with a groundout, pushing his total to just five in the frame.
Jimenez allowed his second base runner with a lead-off walk in the third inning, but forced a flyout to get the first out. He struck out the next batter, but let up two straight hits to load the bases with one out. However, he got out of the jam by again forcing a groundout double play to end the inning with 21 pitches.
The fourth inning started with another single; this time a hard grounder through the hole between second and shortstop. The baserunner stole second and advanced to third after the pick-off attempt went into the outfield.
Things got worse when a passed ball from Jimenez allowed the runner to score from third, spoiling the scoreless outing. Jimenez then recorded a strikeout and, on the next at-bat, stepped on the bag at first base to end the inning at 51 pitches.
Jimenez came out for his last inning and did much the same, allowing a hit and walk to start the fifth. He fielded a comebacker and saved a run on the next at-bat. However, his night ended with a walk that loaded the bases.