Jimenez flashing ace form again for Orioles
Right-hander tosses eight shutout innings in Sunday's win over Tribe
BALTIMORE -- Ubaldo Jimenez, who was removed from the Orioles' rotation last season, has now become one of Baltimore's most consistent starters.
Jimenez's upside, which was the reason the O's signed him to a four-year, $50-million deal in February 2014, was on full display in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader -- a 4-0 win over the Indians -- as the righty tossed eight scoreless innings for his fourth consecutive victory.
"That was the Ubaldo we've seen when he was good," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Jimenez, who exited to a standing ovation from the crowd at Camden Yards. "He threw a lot of strikes, seemed like he worked ahead and always has the off-speed [pitch], whether it's the split or breaking ball, with the deception. He was good. We just seemed like we were 0-1, 0-2, 1-2 a lot today, and that really plays into his strength."
Jimenez, who has not lost since May 16, struck out seven with no walks, and allowed just four hits -- two of which came in the sixth inning. Jimenez responded by getting David Murphy to fly out.
"When he came into spring and really starting the offseason, it was about commanding the fastball. No one had to tell him that. It was underneath the Captain Obvious," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Jimenez. "He knew what was different. Keep in mind, at one point, this guy was one of, if not, the best pitcher in baseball for an extended period of time. You don't lose that pedigree overnight."
At 98 pitches to start the eighth inning, Jimenez turned in another 1-2-3 inning that he ended by retiring Jason Kipnis on a groundout, bringing Camden Yards to its feet.
"I got goosebumps standing there because he's been pitching well, and I know all the hard work he's put into it, and he knows what he's done in the past, and how he didn't do so well last year," O's third baseman Manny Machado said. "This year, he has a mindset of, 'I want to show everybody who I am.' He's doing it. He's showing who the real Ubaldo is."
Jimenez, who has a staff-leading seven wins, lowered his ERA to 3.09 with Sunday's 109-pitch performance, and said the key has been his fastball command this season.
"That's the number one thing for every starter. Especially for me, throughout my career it's been difficult to have good mechanics and command the fastball. I've had to deal with a lot of walks, a lot of command issues," he said. "That's the thing I'm really proud of."