In Ubaldo Jimenez’s first Grapefruit League start of the season, his performance was better than indicated as the Orioles lost 4-1 to the New York Yankees in front of an announced 6,969 at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Jimenez allowed one run on three hits over two innings, but probably deserved a better fate. He commanded his fastball, overcame early adversity and needed just 10 pitches to get through his second inning of work. Overall, 17 of Jimenez’s 29 pitches were strikes.
"He threw strikes and he’s done it two or three times," Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "In the first couple of workdays, I could tell. I was telling [pitching coach] Roger [McDowell], ‘Have you done anything with him?’ He said, ‘no.’ I’m hoping he found something last year and he’s going to run with it this year.
“His delivery has been about as tight as I’ve seen it as far as the workout, even the side days, the pitching," Showalter said. "I’m in the dugout. You’ve all seen some of the spring training outings when he’s trying to get his work in and depending on how you score balls, he had a lot of groundballs."
He didn’t deserve the earned run charged to him in his two-inning outing on Monday. The second batter he faced, Yankees catcher Austin Romine, hit a grounder to first that Mark Trumbo failed to backhand but it was ruled a hit.
And after Romine moved to third on Greg Bird’s double, he scored on a fielder’s choice, a ball that would have been the third out of the inning if Trumbo had made the play on Romine’s grounder.
“It’s part of the game, especially this time of year. We’re here a little bit early, so it takes a little bit more for everybody to get ready," Jimenez said.
The game went into the ninth inning tied at one before right-hander Oliver Drake unraveled, allowing the first three hitters he faced to reach base, culminating with Thairo Estrada’s three-run homer to left field.
Yankees prospect Clint Frazier opened the inning with a double and Kellin Deglan singled to put runners at the corners before Estrada blasted a 1-0 pitch to left for the game-deciding homer.
Schoop goes deep: Playing in his last game before leaving the team to join the Netherlands World Baseball Classic team in South Korea, second baseman Jonathan Schoop hit his first home run of the spring, tattooing a first-pitch 91-mph fastball from Yankees left-hander Evan Rutckyj well over left-field fence.
Schoop, a native of Curacao, played in three of the Orioles’ first four Grapefruit League games in order to get as many at-bats as possible for the WBC. Schoop was 3-for-8 with all of his hits being of the extra-base variety (two doubles and a homer).
“I feel like I have enough games in,” Schoop said. “I think we have two more exhibition games down there to get ready. Then, we’ve got to play three games down there before the tournament starts, but I’m ready. I feel good.”
Jones ranging Orioles outfield: Whether Orioles center fielder Adam Jones plays too shallow is often a topic of discussion -- and Jones has expressed his concern about the team’s outfield defense around him. On Monday, Jones was forced to cover an inordinate amount or ground.
With two outs in the second inning, Jones saved a run by making a diving catch in front of Seth Smith in right field, robbing Jorge Mateo of a base hit.
“Adam made a heck of a ball on that ball,” Showalter said of Jones' catch on Mateo's ball. “Not many people get to that. That’s why things change with depths. The wind’s blowing in, you’ve got a guy up who’s not a power hitter. You have to change some things.”
In the fourth, Jones had to range into left field to prevent an inside-the-park home run when left fielder Hyun Soo Kim lost Aaron Judge’s ball in the sun and it landed over his head.
Hart perfect: Left-handed reliever Donnie Hart pitched a perfect seventh inning for the Orioles and has retired all six batters he’s faced in spring training.
Hart recorded a pair of strikeouts, getting Cito Culver swinging and Rashad Crawford looking. Hart, who was used in a situational lefty role last season, has retired as many right-handed hitters (3) as he has left-handed hitters.
"When I kept looking at this guy and kept asking about him, when you see a guy from that angle that is closing at an upper-level team [Hart had four saves at Double-A Bowie], that tells you he can defend himself against right-handed hitters at that level," Showalter said.
Scott escapes jam: Flame-throwing minor leaguer Tanner Scott stranded the go-ahead run on second in the eighth inning, striking out Wilkin Castillo and Jorge Saez to escape the jam.
Scott issued a one-out walk to former Oriole Ji-Man Choi, who moved to second on a wild pitch. But Scott prevented the run from scoring with the back-to-back strikeouts, ending the inning by getting Saez to swing through a 97-mph fastball.
"He threw some good breaking balls today," Showalter said. "He’s not just a one-way harry with the fastball."