Jimenez brings the stuff, but Nats bring Scherzer

Baltimore Sun - - ORI­OLES - Jme­oli@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/JonMe­oli

the game.

En­ter­ing this split-city, fourgame se­ries with the Na­tion­als, the Ori­oles were reel­ing. With three wins al­ready in their satchels and a trip to New York loom­ing, a very “que sera, sera” vibe floated around. Even so, they gave their best hacks against Scherzer. Jimenez pitched one of his best games of the sea­son. The Ori­oles still lost.

“He went out there and I’m pretty sure many peo­ple didn’t ex­pect him to do what he did,” cen­ter fielder Adam Jones said. “Six in­nings. One pitch I know he wants to have back. But he threw the hell out of the ball.”

Most re­mark­able was that Jimenez, who en­tered the day with 5.61 walks per nine in­nings, didn’t is­sue a free pass. All sea­son, he has been de­railed by throw­ing a rare com­bi­na­tion of too many pitches off the plate and too many pitches out over it.

“I felt good,” Jimenez said. “I was able to com­mand the fast­ball, throw the break­ing ball be­hind in the count. Ev­ery­thing was good.”

He mostly stayed down in the zone, went to just five full counts in six in­nings, and was only burned when Na­tion­als left fielder Jayson Werth blasted a fast­ball over the cen­ter-field fence to open the fourth in­ning.

Be­fore then, Jimenez had been ev­ery bit Scherzer’s equal. The Na­tion­als starter didn’t al­low a hit his first time through the Ori­oles or­der. Jimenez had al­lowed just one. Scherzer, too, al­lowed a big hit to lead off the fourth — a dou­ble by Adam Jones — but re­cov­ered with­out al­low­ing a run. That was where their nights dif­fered.

Scherzer con­tin­ued to cruise, but Jimenez had to work around trou­ble in the fifth. He struck out three in that in­ning, the fi­nal com­ing in a cru­cial at-bat when Werth had run­ners on sec­ond and third base for him.

A breezy sixth in­ning marked the end of Jimenez’s out­ing, when he turned the ball over to Lo­gan On­drusek. On On­drusek’s watch, a one-run deficit turned into a two-run hole, and by the time the Ori­oles had their last hacks in the ninth in­ning, they trailed 4-0. Jimenez fell to 5-11, and the Ori­oles trav­eled north on a sour note.

Even the most hard­ened critic, though, can find some­thing to smile about in this re­cent out­ing. Af­ter get­ting chased from the ro­ta­tion with a 6.89 ERA in mid-June, then get­ting a spot back by ne­ces­sity and leav­ing the ro­ta­tion again at the All-Star break with a 7.38 ERA, Jimenez has since cut a sad fig­ure around an Ori­oles team that has largely gone on with­out him.

Af­ter spoil­ing the Ori­oles’ 50thanniver­sary cel­e­bra­tion of the 1966 World Se­ries cham­pi­ons with a start dur­ing which he al­lowed five runs and left hav­ing re­tired four bat­ters, he sat for 19 days be­fore his first no-win as­sign­ment of the sec­ond half. Jimenez was in­serted into the start­ing ro­ta­tion for a one-time ap­pear­ance for the one-day makeup game in Min­nesota on July 28, al­low­ing a run in five in­nings be­fore the re­lief com­bi­na­tion of Odrisamer De­s­paigne and Chaz Roe made it a 6-2 loss for the vis­i­tors.

That had an eerily sim­i­lar feel­ing to Thurs­day. Jimenez’s pleas­ant sur­prise of an out­ing was for naught, the pitch­ers who fol­lowed him seem­ingly pre­scribed be­fore­hand and not in­clud­ing any of the Ori­oles’ top re­liev­ers.

With Till­man fac­ing at least two weeks on the shelf with shoul­der bur­si­tis, the Ori­oles might need more than just these one-off starts in no-win sit­u­a­tions from Jimenez. They’ll soon shift to must-wins, though Showal­ter wouldn’t com­mit to him mak­ing an­other start.

“I don’t know what else he has to do,” Showal­ter said. “It’s a place where he’s pitched well, and a team he’s pitched well against. We’ll step back and take a look at it and con­tinue to try to put our best foot for­ward. He cer­tainly did tonight.”

Said Jimenez: “That’s ev­ery­thing I’ve done in my ca­reer, start. I know why I was put in the bullpen, but it’s very good to have this one and the one in Min­nesota, too. Hope­fully, I get some more, but wher­ever they put me, I’m go­ing to try to do the best I can to be there for the team.”

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