It’s late May, but Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez pitched like it was early April.
Jimenez labored through four innings Saturday against the Cleveland Indians, his shortest outing of the year, matching season-worst marks with five runs allowed and five walks.
“It looks like I’m just missing a little bit of the strike zone,” said Jimenez, who finished with 99 pitches, 55 of them strikes. “I’m not that far away, but I’m missing and falling behind the count and getting myself into trouble.
“I think I threw a lot of good pitches. I know the umpire, he didn’t like it, and there’s nothing you can do right now.”
Known for his inconsistency in the opening month of the season, Jimenez seemed to have regained his sharpness in May. After going 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA in his five April starts, he began the new month by allowing one run over three appearances.
But last Sunday against the Kansas City Royals, he surrendered five runs in as many innings, and Saturday wasn’t any better.
All five batters Jimenez faced in the fifth inning reached base safely, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter pulled him before he recorded an out in the frame. Left-hander T.J. McFarland couldn’t stop the damage, allowing all three inherited runners to score.
Signed in the offseason to a four-year, $50 million deal in the hopes that he could reproduce the second half of his 2013 season, Jimenez is now 2-6 with a 4.98 ERA this year. He has pitched only seven or more innings twice.
“He just didn’t have it today,” catcher Steve Clevenger said. “His command wasn’t there. … His [fastball] was cutting a little bit sometimes and doing different things.”
Bothered by what Showalter said was a tight strike zone, Jimenez had difficulty keeping his pitch count low. He had thrown 76 pitches before the fifth inning, then walked the leadoff batter to spark the Indians’ rally.
“You’re going to be a little bit tired, because you’ve been throwing too many pitches in the first four innings,” Jimenez said. “The other thing is, you have to try to be more aggressive, because you don’t want to be out of the game right away.”
But three hits and a walk later, Showalter had no choice but to end Jimenez’s afternoon.