Sunday’s 10-2 loss shouldn’t spoil a series victory for the Orioles as they took two out of three from the Los Angeles Angels to begin their longest road trip of the season to this point.
The weekend was highlighted by Matt Wieters’ dramatic three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to erase a 1-0 deficit and give Baltimore a 3-1 win on Saturday night. The blow came on Wieters’ 30th birthday and continued a strong month for the veteran catcher in which he’s hit .372 with three homers, eight RBIs, and a 1.038 OPS.
It was another game that had a 2014 feel to it in the sense that the Orioles came away with one they had little business winning after Matt Shoemaker had dominated them. And it’s the kind of win you remember fondly if they’re still in the thick of the race in September.
Even with the lopsided loss in the series finale, the Orioles went into the off-day holding the best record in the American League and leading the East by percentage points over the Boston Red Sox.
** Ubaldo Jimenez continued a nightmare month on Sunday by allowing six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, lifting his season ERA to 6.04 and his May ERA to 7.81 in 27 2/3 innings.
It’s been an extended period of struggles for the right-hander dating back to the second half of last season. Since holding an impressive 2.81 ERA at the 2015 All-Star break, Jimenez has pitched to a 5.79 mark in his last 135 1/3 innings of regular-season work.
The frustration over Jimenez’s performance is obvious, but the problem is that the Orioles aren’t exactly bursting at the seams with alternatives — at least until Yovani Gallardo is ready to return next month. Despite the cries of some fans, the organization just isn’t releasing a pitcher in the third year of a four-year, $50 million contract, especially when Jimenez is capable of getting on a roll in which he pitches at a high level.
Manager Buck Showalter reiterated after Sunday’s game that the Orioles aren’t at a point where Jimenez’s rotation spot is in jeopardy, but something may have to give sooner rather than later if his May struggles continue into June.
** Mike Scioscia was rightfully upset with home plate umpire Dale Scott over a pair of awful strike calls in the ninth inning on Saturday, but I’m still scratching my head about the Angels manager removing Shoemaker after just 95 pitches.
There was no reason to think the starter couldn’t have at least finished the eighth after striking out 12 over 7 1/3 innings. Perhaps the baseball gods agreed considering how the ninth inning played out.
** If you’re looking for the latest reason why the win stat means little for starting pitchers, look no further than Kevin Gausman, who has zero in six starts despite a tidy 2.70 ERA.
On Saturday, the 25-year-old showed his best fastball velocity since his season debut and got stronger as the game went on despite no run support from the Orioles lineup. The wins will come, but the important news is that Gausman is healthy and pitching effectively.
** Joey Rickard stole second base in the first inning of Sunday’s game, giving the Orioles just their sixth stolen base of the season.
Entering Sunday, 32 players in the majors had more steals than the entire Orioles club. Of course, Baltimore leading the majors in homers has a lot to do with the reluctance to run.