TORONTO -- Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez has been unpredictable from one start to the next, but on Thursday night, the good version showed up at Rogers Centre.Jimenez allowed just two hits over eight innings, while striking out eight and walking one, in a 2-0 victory over the Blue Jays in
TORONTO -- Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez has been unpredictable from one start to the next, but on Thursday night, the good version showed up at Rogers Centre.
Jimenez allowed just two hits over eight innings, while striking out eight and walking one, in a 2-0 victory over the Blue Jays in the rubber game. Jimenez tossed 71 of his 98 pitches for strikes in what will go down as one of his best starts of the season. It follows an outing in which he tied a career high by allowing nine earned runs to the Rays. Brad Brach sealed the shutout with his 15th save.
"Those are the type of games as a catcher, you just really take in," said O's catcher Caleb Joseph, who got the late start in place of Welington Castillo. "It's what you dream about when you're young, setting up and just hitting the glove. It makes you giddy out there when you have that type of performance. I'm so happy for him, really."
The Blue Jays' first eight batters of the game were retired in order until Ryan Goins doubled into the gap in left-center. Goins was stranded at second base. This was the third time in the last 19 games that an Orioles starter had gone at least six innings, and Jimenez has two of those three on his record.
Left-hander J.A. Happ was the hard-luck loser despite another solid outing. Happ allowed two runs on eight hits, a pair of walks and two strikeouts before he was removed with two out in the seventh inning. It marked the fifth time in six starts since returning from the disabled list that Happ allowed three runs or fewer, but he's 2-2 in those outings because of a lack of run support.
"Early in the game, I felt really strong and thought I was getting some early outs, keeping the pitch count down," Happ said. "I think any time you keep any team in this league, especially this division, in this ballpark, in the ballpark, you give yourself a chance to win. So overall I felt pretty good about it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Adding on: Jimenez cruised through five innings, and in the sixth, the O's gave him a little extra breathing room. Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones opened with singles and Trey Mancini walked to load the bases with one out. Joseph delivered an RBI single to right field to put the Orioles up 2-0.
"You know automatically he's going to be confident coming in," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Jimenez, who has not allowed a run over his last 14 2/3 innings of the regular season vs. Toronto. "He was sticking it pretty good. He did a nice job, and that was a big part of it."
The lefty specialist:Joey Rickard made the most of his opportunity atop the Orioles' lineup. With the lefty Happ on the mound, Rickard got the start in left field over Seth Smith and made his presence felt in the third inning. Ruben Tejada led off the frame with a single and then advanced to third when Rickard hit a double to left. The first run of the game then came around to score two batters later when Schoop hit a sacrifice fly to left.
"[It was] 6:47 [p.m.]. I was just about to take my third bite of a nice pepperoni pizza." -- Joseph, on when he first learned he'd be starting
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Blue Jays have scored an American League-worst 92 runs in June, dropping to 13-21 against the AL East this season after going 40-36 vs. the division last season. The Blue Jays have not had a losing record in the division since 2013, when they went 30-46.
• Blue Jays fans, Stroman awestruck by Pillar's catch
PILLAR OF STRENGTH
Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar took extra bases away from Tejada in the seventh with a spectacular leaping grab at the wall in right-center field. According to Statcast™, it was deemed a four-star catch without factoring in the difficulty of hanging onto the ball after the impact at the wall. He ran an estimated 110 feet and had an opportunity time of 5.5 seconds to make the play. The ball had a 41 percent catch probability after it left Tejada's bat, and Pillar reached a sprint speed of 29.9 feet per second. More >
Orioles: Right-hander Chris Tillman will start the series opener against the Rays at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Camden Yards. Tillman owns an 11.14 ERA this month, allowing 40 hits, 13 walks and seven home runs over 21 innings.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marco Estrada (4-6, 4.89 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays open a three-game series vs. the Red Sox at 7:07 p.m. ET on Friday at Rogers Centre. Estrada allowed three runs over seven innings in his last outing vs. the Royals.
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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto and covered the Orioles on Thursday.