BALTIMORE -- The final out of the third inning occurred just after Ubaldo Jimenez gave up a base hit. Tampa Bay catcher Wilson Ramos was caught in a rundown just after first baseman Logan Morrison scored, and as Ramos was tagged out, the Orioles trailed, 6-2.
Jimenez, the polarizing right-hander who was given the largest free agent contract in Orioles history in Feb. 2014, had probably pitched his final inning for them at home.
There’s no doubt that Jimenez -- whose four-year, $50 million contract has been singled out by fans as a poor investment -- will pitch elsewhere in 2018.
Manager Buck Showalter presumably breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that a portion of the 28,835 fans at Oriole Park wouldn’t jeer at his pitcher one final time.
Jimenez allowed six runs on eight hits in three innings as the Orioles lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, Sept. 22.
The loss pushed the Orioles to 74-81, ensuring that 2017 won’t be a winning season. They’ve lost 13 of 16 and in 21 games in September, have scored three runs or fewer 15 times.
At 33, Jimenez said that he wanted to pitch again next season.
“There’s no doubt. I feel good, my arm feels good,” Jimenez said. “I’ve never had any trouble with my arm and been in the big leagues for 10 years.”
Jimenez said that the probability this was his last home game with the Oriole wasn’t on his mind.
“No, I don’t even think about that,” Jimenez said. “Whatever is happening I just thank God every time for giving me the courage to be here so long and whatever happens I’m just going to go with it. Of course, I didn’t want it to happen again like it (did), but it’s part of the game. I’m never going to dwell on that. It happened, I move on.”
In four seasons, Jimenez is 32-42 with a 5.22 ERA with the Orioles. This year, he’s 6-11 with a 6.81 ERA.
How would he characterize his time with the Orioles?
“It’s had its ups and downs of course,” Jimenez said. “But being here in this clubhouse with such a great group of guys is something that I’m always going to take with me. Nothing is going to erase that.”
Ramos’ second-inning grand slam was the key hit.
It’s possible that Jimenez starts again in one of the final games against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field next weekend, so Showalter wasn’t keen on summing up his Orioles career.
“That's for another day. It's not up,” Showalter said. “We always look for the positives in everything, especially my job and if you look, you'll always find them. Tonight wasn't one of them.”
Earlier in the day, second baseman Jonathan Schoop was named “Most Valuable Oriole” by media members who cover the team.
Schoop, who was named to his first All-Star team in July, is hitting .295 with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs.
“I’m proud of playing a successful season without injuries so far,” Schoop said. “J.J. [Hardy] taught me that, don’t worry about your numbers, just go out there and compete and try to win, and your numbers will be there.”
Showalter has been impressed by Schoop’s season.
“To have that number of RBIs, it’s the consistency and durability. I think those two things,” Showalter said. “He’s always had durability, but the consistency, he’s taken his game to another level. He didn’t get out of whack for very long. He’s grown into a real consistent guy you can count on.”
NOTES: Left-hander Zach Britton had a stem cell injection in his left knee. Showalter has refused to rule out Britton pitching again this season. … right-handers Jeremy Hellickson (2-5, 7.29) and Jake Odorizzi (9-8, 4.46) will face off Sept. 23. … Showalter said he expected right-hander Dylan Bundy to start the final home game Sept. 24. … outfielder Trey Mancini has a 12-game hitting streak. … outfielder Adam Jones had two hits and has 1,615 with the Orioles, passing Brady Anderson for fourth place on the team’s hit list.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox