Ubaldo Jimenez's ejection overshadows Orioles' 3-2, walk-off loss to Red Sox

BOSTON — Inside Fenway Park's visiting clubhouse Friday night, the Orioles tried to digest their 3-2, walk-off loss to the Boston Red Sox.

As stinging as Xander Bogaerts' decisive, game-winning bloop single in the ninth inning off struggling right-hander Tommy Hunter was, it was easy enough to understand. It was another seeing-eye single, one of many that have hunted Orioles relievers too often in the season's first 10 games.


But just how the Orioles (5-5) reached that point had everyone in orange and black scratching their heads.

With two outs in the fourth inning, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez — one of the Orioles' most mild-mannered players, he had not been ejected before Friday — hit Boston third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the right shoulder with a first-pitch fastball.


No warnings had been issued, and inside the dugout, there was no sign of tension. Yes, Sandoval had slid hard into second baseman Jonathan Schoop earlier in the game while breaking up a double play, but the Orioles later said that Sandoval's slide was no different from any of the hard-nosed plays that go unjudged every night around baseball.

That did not matter to home plate umpire Jordan Baker, who tossed Jimenez from the game after 3 2/3 hitless innings and forced the beleaguered Orioles bullpen into early service against the Red Sox (7-3).

After the game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter stewed, making no secret of his opinion that Baker's quick trigger had played too big a role in the outcome.

"It's kind of professionally a little embarrassing to see that type of thing have such an impact," Showalter said. "It just puts our bullpen in a challenge for the rest of this road trip, or for a while, because we had to pitch people in situations where they shouldn't have been pitching. … It's unfortunate it impacted the game that much."

The American League East rivals have had their share of tense moments here recently. David Ortiz charged the mound when Kevin Gregg hit him with a pitch four years ago, instigating a brawl. Last season, both benches and dugouts cleared when catcher David Ross jawed at Orioles right-hander Bud Norris.

But Jimenez's situation was different.

"I was shocked," he said. "You don't see that happen every day, without any warning, without any history with the player. First game of the series against Boston. There's no history, there's nothing. He's a good hitter, and I am trying to go inside. Especially against a left-handed hitter, you aren't trying to go down; you are trying to go up. I had three walks. It's not like I had perfect command of my fastball. I was shocked. … It was in the shoulder. You don't pitch left-handed hitters like Pablo down and in."

Crew chief Jerry Meals told a pool reporter after the game that Baker believed Ubaldo's pitch was retaliatory.

"After they showed the replay on the board, Jordan saw the Orioles dugout, and it seemed they reacted to the slide," Meals said. "And then Pablo's next at-bat, first pitch to him [is a] fastball in. It's close to the head, it was a dangerous pitch, so it's an automatic. You can give a warning if you prefer to, but he felt it's an ejection."

Baker didn't hesitate in making his decision. The Orioles' reaction was equally fervent. Jimenez emphatically raised his arms in the air, catcher Caleb Joseph flung off his mask and began arguing with Baker, and Showalter sprinted out of the dugout.

"I was surprised. I was shocked," said Joseph, who put the Orioles up 2-0 with his first homer of the season, a solo shot off Joe Kelly in the fifth that landed just beyond Pesky's Pole in right field. "As soon as it hit him, my mind shifted straight to the next batter. I didn't think twice about it. And then the immediate reaction is to try to figure out why that happened. But I was shocked."

Jimenez had to watch from the clubhouse as Showalter turned to right-hander Kevin Gausman to eat innings. The bullpen, which has allowed a run in all 10 games this season, blew an early 2-0 lead when Gausman allowed a two-run homer to light-hitting Ryan Hanigan.


"The most it hurts is, the bullpen [had to] go in the game" early, Jimenez said. "We still have three more games with these guys, and to go to Toronto, that's the toughest thing that's coming out of that game."

Left-hander Brian Matusz (0-1), one of the Orioles' few rested bullpen arms, issued a costly four-pitch walk to Mike Napoli to open the ninth. After Daniel Nava moved Napoli to second on a sacrifice bunt, Hunter entered the game to face Bogaerts, who looped a single that dropped into shallow right field.

"Yeah, it's one of those ones you've got to swallow and move on, because this game moves pretty quick, and we've got to get over it and come out and throw it again tomorrow," Hunter said.

While Showalter looked forward to turning the page after the hard-to-digest defeat, he said he hoped Major League Baseball would review the ejection.

"MLB will look at it and hopefully take some action to make sure it didn't happen again," he said. "It's sad that it did [impact the game]. My biggest thing is the bullpen and what we had to do there.

"Everybody aspires to play that [kind of] game. We welcome it. We do it. We applaud people that do it. That's the way you want the game played. Every time somebody gets hit with a pitch, it's not intentional. And every time somebody slides hard, that's what you're supposed to do. Nobody gets mad. A lot of times, you say, 'I know what it looks like,' but this time, no, not at all."

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