BALTIMORE — Ten starts into his Baltimore career, the Orioles are still trying to figure out which Ubaldo Jimenez they signed.
At times, Jimenez has been dominating. But when he’s struggled, it hasn’t been pretty.
Such was the case on Saturday afternoon, when Jimenez labored through his shortest start of the season against his former team as the Orioles were on the short side of a 9-0 drubbing — their most lopsided loss of the season — at the hands of the Cleveland Indians in front of an announced 36,873 at Camden Yards.
Baltimore (24-23) lost for the ninth time in 13 games and was shut out for the fourth time.
The club is convinced there’s a fine line between Jimenez at his best and his worst.
“It’s kind of been like that his whole career,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “You like it when it’s in sync . . . . But it’s a big difference between 2-1 and 1-2 [counts].”
After posting quality starts in his first three May outings and pitching to a 0.47 ERA in that stretch, Jimenez has allowed 10 runs over his past two starts for an ERA of 10.00.
Jimenez, signed in February to a four-year, $50 million deal — a club record for a free agent pitcher — fell to 2-6 with a 4.98 ERA.
On Saturday, Jimenez recorded just 12 outs and was chased during a five-run fifth inning without retiring a batter. The right-hander tied a season high with five walks. All three batters he walked in the fifth scored.
The fifth inning has given Jimenez trouble this season. He’s allowed 12 earned runs in 82 / 3 innings in the fifth for a 12.46 ERA, his highest of any inning.
The trouble in the fifth began with a leadoff walk to Carlos Santana — who drew three walks and hit a first-pitch, two-run homer in the game. Santana came around to score following back-to-back singles by Yan Gomes and Justin Sellers, the bottom two hitters in the Cleveland lineup.
Michael Bourn drew another walk and Mike Aviles’ single put the Indians (24-26) up 2-0 and chased Jimenez from the game.
Indians right-hander Corey Kluber handcuffed Baltimore over seven scoreless innings, allowing just five hits while striking out nine and walking two.