ST. PETERSBURG -- In the Majors, progress can be lost in the shuffle of a results-oriented sport.Ubaldo Jimenez showed progress Wednesday afternoon, but it was in a losing effort. He struck out a season-high nine batters, including five looking, giving up only three hits and two walks over six innings
ST. PETERSBURG -- In the Majors, progress can be lost in the shuffle of a results-oriented sport.
Ubaldo Jimenez showed progress Wednesday afternoon, but it was in a losing effort. He struck out a season-high nine batters, including five looking, giving up only three hits and two walks over six innings in a 5-1 loss to the Rays.
Compare that to July 21, when the Astros scored six runs on 10 hits off Jimenez in 5 1/3 innings. That was his second straight outing of six runs and 10 or more hits, the first time he'd ever sunk that low in his career.
But Jimenez was able to take positives from that Astros win, despite his inflated stats.
"After my last game, I know the result wasn't there, but I felt good physically," Jimenez said. "My fastball was there. I was throwing strikes. It was just a matter of getting the pitches down in the zone and have a better result like today."
Jimenez's nine strikeouts were his most in a game since last April and his most on the road since May 2014.
"Ubaldo did his part. … That was impressive," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Got off to a little bit of a rocky start. He was 3-2 on the first … four or five hitters. But then, all of a sudden, really was able to use his pitches. We played good defense behind him, too."
The right-hander retired 12 in a row at one point. However, Evan Longoria did get around on a pitch on the inside corner, hitting a go-ahead two-run homer that was enough to saddle Jimenez with the loss.
"It's part of the game," Jimenez said. "I know I was pretty good. I was able to compete and give the team a chance to be close on the scoreboard."
Showalter and Rays manager Kevin Cash both praised Jimenez's fastball command on Wednesday. That helped him get ahead in counts and set up his offspeed pitches, which Jimenez said he was even able to throw behind in the count or for a first-pitch strike.
"He located the fastball as well as we've seen this season," Cash said. "That's why he picked up so many strikeouts, because he was able to get both sides of the plate with the split, the fastball and the get-me-over slider early on."
Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Orioles on Wednesday.