No doubt there will be a lot of people who believe the reason Ubaldo Jimenez was so dominant Friday night was because he finally escaped from the month of April, but the calendar didn't have anything to do with it.

The reason Jimenez was so overpowering and efficient in a 3-0 Orioles win was because he had confidence in all his pitches and because he finally started throwing his fastball with the confidence it deserves.

When he's at his best, Jimenez can throw his fastball just about anywhere in the strike zone because of its late life and unpredictable movement. Throw in a nasty splitter that left Twins hitters shaking their heads on the way back to the dugout, and you've got a prescription for the most impressive outing by an Orioles starter this season.

"I don't have the same mechanics as other pitchers, so it takes a little longer to put it all together,'' Jimenez told Mid-Atlantic Sports Network after the game.

This was a night when the Orioles' spring shopping spree was very much in play. Jimenez struck out 10 batters and allowed just three hits and a walk to improve his record to 1-4 and lower his ERA to 5.19. Obviously, those numbers still aren't pretty, but O's fans got a glimpse of the guy who was American league Pitcher of the Month last September.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette's other big addition again was the main man. Nelson Cruz hit a mammoth two-run home run that, if it hadn't hit a concrete step in the upper deck at Target Field, might still be in flight. He increased his team-leading home run total to eight and RBI total to 27.

Maybe most important, however, was the way Jimenez preserved the Orioles bullpen the night after the club played a doubleheader that carried over to Friday morning before arriving in Minnesota at daylight.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com