BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles haven’t been able to rely on their starting pitchers all season, and nothing was different this weekend against the Cubs. The latest culprit? Inconsistent right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez in the series finale Sunday afternoon.
In the Orioles’ 8-0 loss in front of an announced crowd of 31,105 at Camden Yards, Jimenez allowed six runs on 11 hits in 3⅔ innings as part of a disastrous weekend for the Baltimore rotation. In the Cubs’ three-game sweep, the Orioles’ starters combined to allow 21 runs, 27 hits and seven home runs in 11⅓ innings.
Baltimore (42-49) fell a season-worst seven games below .500 and is tied with Toronto for last in the AL East.
“We are playing a World [Series] champion team that everyone knew was going to get going at some point, and unfortunately they started here,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “They are on top of their game, and they have a lot of good pieces, good starting pitching. We were not up to the challenge.”
Sunday was the seventh time the Orioles were shut out this season. The Cubs (46-45) led 6-0 by the fourth inning, a familiar pattern after they built 8-0 and 7-0 leads Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The Orioles began the day with a major league-worst 5.95 ERA from its starters — a full run worse than any other team in the American League — and Jimenez (4-5) only made it higher. He gave up three straight doubles to start the second inning and then a pair of RBI singles to fall behind 4-0. In the fourth, Kris Bryant made it 6-0 with a two-run homer, and Jimenez’s day was soon over.
The bullpen continued to hold its own with Donnie Hart, Mychal Givens and Zach Britton combining for 4⅓ scoreless innings before Darren O’Day gave up a two-run home run to Anthony Rizzo in the ninth.
“It is disappointing, but this is baseball,” Jimenez said. “We need to figure it out and get ready for tomorrow.”
Showalter said before the game he would have “liked to think we’ve thought about every possibility” that could fix the team’s starting pitching. The Orioles have gone so far as to ponder starting a reliever, then bringing in a starter in the third or fourth inning.
“We’ve thought of some, [what] a lot of people would consider some unorthodox stuff, as everybody else in baseball has,” Showalter said. “I don’t really care about other’s people’s problems that much, but it’s something that’s been a challenge for a lot of clubs. Maybe not to the level that we’ve faced, but it’s a challenge, [and] it’s also a separator.”
The Cubs have had some rotation problems as well, but they may have solved some of them, with left-hander Jose Quintana making his debut Sunday, three days after being acquired from the Chicago White Sox.
Quintana allowed three hits and struck out a season-high 12, which tied the Cubs’ record for a debut.
“That’s why you have to move out four players for guys like him,” Showalter said of Quintana. “I think he’s under control for the next three years for them. We knew he would be having a lot of adrenaline for him today, trying to, you know, new teammates, trying to make a mark and prove himself a little bit, so he was big. Obviously we didn’t score any runs.”
The Orioles’ loss only furthered the notion the team could be in the market to sell and start to rebuild for the coming years. Reports before game indicated that, with ownership approval, the Orioles are gearing up to do just that at the trade deadline
The Orioles will continue their homestand Monday with a three-game series against the Texas Rangers.
“You still have a lot of games left to play, and this homestand is still big,” first baseman Chris Davis said. “I think it’s big for us to bounce back against the Rangers and get a nice comfortable win, if there is such a thing.”