Showalter: Ubaldo on 'mission' to finish strong
NEW YORK -- Over the Orioles' recent three-week stretch, there hasn't been a lot to feel good about. But while the offense has come in spurts, the O's rotation finally got some reprieve Wednesday night from Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez became the first Orioles starter in 11 games to go more than 5 2/3 innings, retiring 13 of the final 14 batters he faced in a seven-inning outing that highlighted the 5-3 win over the Yankees that secured a series victory for the O's and kept New York from gaining ground on first-place Toronto in the division.
"We found a lot of things the last couple of nights that look like the things that we did this season to be in first place and be more competitive, and things we've done the last three or four years," manager Buck Showalter said. "The consistency of the team is usually dictated by the consistency of your starting pitching."
With O's starters pitching to an ERA of 5.96 over the first five games of the road trip, Jimenez stepped up big-time Wednesday. The righty held New York to three runs, turning in his first start of more than 5 2/3 innings since Aug. 8 in the process. Coming off a fantastic first half in which he pitched to a 2.81 ERA, Jimenez entered Wednesday with a 6.88 second-half ERA.
More outings like Wednesday's could go a long way, not only in getting the rotation moving in the right direction, but for Jimenez -- who was removed from the rotation last year -- ending on a solid note with two more seasons left on his contract
"As starting pitchers, we take a lot of pride in getting deep into games," Jimenez said. "And when it's not happening, you definitely don't feel good. It's disappointing. But it is always a part of the game. You try to do everything you can four days before you start to get ready for that game, and when things don't go your way, it feels really bad. But you have to keep moving forward and finish strong."
Jimenez -- second to Wei-Yin Chen in innings pitched for the O's -- has a staff-leading 11 wins and struck out eight on Wednesday night to move past special-assignment instructor Ramon Martinez for eighth place all-time in strikeouts (1,434) for Dominican-born players.
"He's on a little mission, I can tell," Showalter said. "He wasn't too happy. He wanted to finish up strong. He doesn't want to judge his contributions compared to other guys. It's just, you've seen him pitch well many times this year in a tough environment on the road like he did tonight, against a good team that's scratching and clawing for everything."