Written by Chris Slade
Ubaldo Jimenez, the crown jewel offseason signing, made his Oriole regular season debut tonight. He was opposed by veteran right hander John Lackey for the Red Sox.
The Sox drew first blood in the 3rd inning. Dustin Pedroia (who would go on to finish 4-for-5) lined a single into leftfield. David Ortiz then deposited a no doubter onto the flag court off a belt high inside 92 mph heater to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
Lackey had cruised along the first three plus innings before issuing a walk to Chris Davis with two outs in the 4th inning. It appeared he would work out of it, jumping ahead 0-2 on Nelson Cruz, but Cruz had other plans. Big Nelly absolutely crushed a high outside fastball that caught too much of the zone for an 0-2 offering and put an oppo bomb onto the flag court to tie the game.
The Red Sox got to Jimenez again in the 5th inning as we saw another home run given up on an 0-2 count (should never happen, let alone twice in a game) as Mike Napoli hit a two-run shot to dead center on a fastball inexplicably right down the middle.
The Red Sox tacked on two more in the 7th inning versus Ryan Webb on Napoli's two-run single. Lackey pitched a quality start and the Red Sox bullpen held on for the 6-2 win
Ubaldo Jimenez entered this game with a grotesque track record versus the Red Sox. He faired much better tonight save for the two home runs he served up.
He kicked his debut off with a bang, sitting down Daniel Nava on three pitches, punctuated by a called third strike on the corner of a 92 mph fastball. After putting Pedroia and Ortiz on via single and walk, he ended the inning with another backwards K to Jonny Gomes.
Jimenez cruised through the 2nd inning, sitting down Will Middlebrooks on three pitches, painitng the outside corner for another called strike three.
Pedroia and Ortiz looked comfortable versus Ubaldo and his goofy mechanics in the first inning and that continued in the third as Pedroia hit another single and Ortiz got ahold of every bit of the inside heater Jimenez grooved down the middle for him.
Jimenez prevented any further score as Jonny Gomes, a lefty crusher who struggles with righthanders, predictably swung out of his shoes on Ubaldo's nasty splitter for strike three.
After cruising through the 4th, Ubaldo allowed yet another single to Pedroia, retired Ortiz, and appeared well on his way to retiring Napoli, jumping ahead 0-2. Instead, Ubaldo grooved a 91 mph heater pretty much right smack in the middle of the zone which Napoli deposited over the center field wall.
Ubaldo worked through the 6th without further score but the damage had been done and he took the loss in his debut. He threw 96 pitches, 63 for strikes which is pretty good but he paid the price for some spotty command within the strike zone at times by this excellent Red Sox lineup.
Final Line: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, Loss
Offseason signing Ryan Webb took over in the 7th, quickly retiring Middlebrooks on three pitches to start out the inning. After Nava hit a single, Pedroia bounced a grounder to third which Flaherty made a throwing error to first on. After intentionally walking Ortiz, Webb surrendered a two run single to Napoli.
Brian Matusz, lefty specialist extraordinare, ended the 7th inning with no further damage by retiring Grady Sizemore on a popout.
Darren O'Day pitched a scoreless 8th inning and Josh Stinson did likewise in the 9th inning.
For the second straight game, there was not much offense to come by for the Orioles save for Nelson Cruz, who is making a great first impression at Camden Yards. Lackey worked six strong innings (save for the 4th inning) often pitching ahead with good fastball command low in the zone while sanpping off plus breaking balls with regularity to put the Oriole hitters away
Nick Markakis led off the game with a single but finished 1-for-4.
Adam Jones had a rough night against Lackey as he was caught several times flailing at Lackey's plus breaking ball away and outside the zone.
JJ Hardy recorded the lone multi-hit night going 2-for-4 with two groundball singles.
Atholton graduate Steve Lombardozzi recorded his first Oriole hit, a single, off Junichi Tazawa in the 8th inning.
Defensive Highlights/ Lowlights
As mentioned before, Ryan Flaherty made a throwing error in the 7th inning. He made a good play on the grounder and tossed an accurate throw over to first. However, it sailed into the dirt on a bounce and Davis was unable to pick it on the hop.
Key Moments In The Game
Not making good 0-2 pitches. John Lackey paid the price for his 0-2 fastball that Cruz unleashed on as did Ubaldo Jimenez, who I'm still scratching my head at for not throwing his best pitch, a plus plus splitter, 0-2 to Mike Napoli.
Flaherty's error. The error proved costly as the Red Sox were able to capitalize on the subsequent bases loaded situation it led to. Down 6-2 against pitching staff on their A game tonight, the O's were unable to make a comeback.
Nelson Cruz now has two home runs in two games which puts in on pace for 162 but hey, who's counting?
Ubaldo recorded four of his six strikeouts via called third strike. The homeplate umpire had a somewhat genenerous outside strikezone and Ubaldo took adavatage of it.
Nick Markakis is a career .325/.372/.436 hitter in the leadoff spot. Keep him there, Buck.
Rubber match tommorow night at 7 ET. Duel lefties Wei-Yin Chen and Felix Doubront on the bump.
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