Jimenez pitches O’s to 4-0 win

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have to go with every­thing. And every game is big.”

“This time of year, mo­men­tum is huge,” said catcher Matt Wi­eters, who drove in a run in the eighth. “Over 162 [games], mo­men­tum is go­ing to come and go, but once you start get­ting closer to the play­offs, mo­men­tum is big. We’re go­ing to try to keep it go­ing as long as we can, keep the mo­men­tum go­ing when you’re go­ing good and when you’re not go­ing good, you’ve got to stop that and turn it around.”

Jimenez (8-12), who threw a sea­son-high 116 pitches, al­lowed just one hit — Eze­quiel Car­erra’s lead­off sin­gle in the first — and re­tired 20 of the fi­nal 22 bat­ters he faced.

Over his seven starts since re­turn­ing to the start­ing ro­ta­tion, Jimenez has a 2.45 ERA. He has also turned in two of the team’s top pitch­ing per­for­mances this month, in­clud­ing a com­pletegame win at Tampa Bay on Sept. 5.

Jimenez has not al­lowed an earned run over his past17 in­nings.

“It felt great,” Jimenez said. “There’s no words to put it [in per­spec­tive], but all of the guys they know what we are play­ing for and ev­ery­one is do­ing their parts, es­pe­cially the last two games.”

The Ori­oles’ quest to reach the post­sea­son heads to New York, where the team will close the reg­u­lar sea­son with three games at Yan­kee Sta­dium be­gin­ning tonight. The Ori­oles’ win Thurs­day of­fi­cially elim­i­nated the Yan­kees from post­sea­son con­sid­er­a­tion.

The Ori­oles came to Canada hop­ing to hold on to the sec­ond wild-card spot, and go into their fi­nal se­ries with a chance to host the wild-card game, which is sched­uled for Tues­day night.

There’s still plenty of work to do, in­clud­ing dodg­ing bad weather that could push the end of the se­ries to Mon­day. The Ori­oles and Blue Jays, who close with three games in Bos­ton, are 11⁄ games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, whose game Thurs­day in Ori­oles starter Ubaldo Jimenez is con­grat­u­lated by Chris Davis be­fore be­ing re­lieved. Jimenez has not al­lowed an earned run in his past 17 in­nings. Cleve­land was post­poned.

The Ori­oles of­fense didn’t pro­duce much in Toronto, scor­ing eight runs in three games, but the team pitched well enough to sal­vage two wins at Rogers Cen­tre, where it had lost five of seven be­fore this week.

The lat­est high­light was a sparkling per­for­mance by Jimenez, who has seen his con­fi­dence rise with his suc­cess. The key to his turn­around has been find­ing com­mand of his sinker. He used it Thurs­day, in­duc­ing10 ground-ball outs. Jimenez struck out five.

“Every­thing was good,” he said. The “sinker was down. All my break­ing balls were good. I was able to throw it ahead in the count, be­hind in the count, in any count. … Com­mand of the fast­ball, that has been the main thing for me. To get ahead, stay ahead and throw the fast­ball wher­ever I want — up, down, away, in­side.”

Jimenez held top power hit­ters Josh Don­ald­son, Ed­win En­car­na­cion and Jose Bautista hit­less in nine plate ap­pear­ances. The Toronto trio is a com­bined 17-for-107 (.159) against Jimenez in his ca­reer.

The Blue Jays put their first two bat­ters on base when Jimenez walked Don­ald­son af­ter Car­rera’s lead­off sin­gle, but Jimenez re­tired the next three bat­ters to end a 23-pitch first in­ning.

Jimenez then re­tired 17 of the next 18 bat­ters be­fore is­su­ing a two-out walk to En­car­na­cion. He in­duced a loud but harm­less fly­out from Bautista to end the in­ning.

“He’s pound­ing the zone,” Wi­eters said of Jimenez. “He’s go­ing right at hit­ters and I think be­fore in the past, he got him­self in trou­ble with some 0-2 to 3-2 [count] type things and now he’s just go­ing af­ter hit­ters and mak­ing pitches when he has to. He feels real good right now and we feel good play­ing be­hind him.”

TOM SZCZER­BOWSKI/GETTY IM­AGES

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