The Tuesday Takeaway
The number that describes Ubaldo Jimenez’s performance as a starter this year is perhaps not one of his individual stats, but instead one of the Orioles’ collective ones—a team rotation DRA of 4.65. Baltimore’s starters have been the worst of any team with a winning record, and yet Jimenez struggled so greatly that he was deemed unfit even for them. After a month in the bullpen, however, Jimenez is back as a starter courtesy of Chris Tillman’s trip to the disabled list. And two outings in, his return to the rotation been remarkably not bad. By the standard he set as a starter earlier this year, remarkably good, even! (When that standard involves averaging fewer than five innings per game and putting up an ERA over 7, “remarkably good” is perhaps not so hard to come by, but regardless.)
Despite a relatively strong showing last week in his first game back in the rotation (six innings, one run, no walks), Jimenez walked away with nothing to show for it as the Orioles were shut out by the Nationals. And at first, his Tuesday start looked as if it might follow a similar pattern. Apart from a brief patch of trouble in the second, where he allowed a run to score after giving up a Michael Saunders double, Jimenez was solid. Through five, he’d given up just the one run on three hits, along with making Jose Bautista look very silly once.
But Jimenez faltered in the seventh and was pulled after giving up a two-run homer to Saunders. It was still enough to make his return to the rotation his best set of back-to-back starts this year (which, to be fair, was not an especially high bar), but it wasn’t clear if it would be enough to get the Orioles a win in their race for the wild card… until Matt Wieters played the hero in the bottom of the eighth, giving Baltimore the 5-3 win .
Home runs are not so much an Achilles heel for Josh Tomlin as they as are a painfully infected flesh wound—that is to say, they don’t seem so much to be a vulnerable point for others to attack as they do a weakness that consistently and actively sabotages him. Even when he’s at his best, he can never get away from them, and this month has seen Tomlin very far from his best (four of his five August starts have involved more than five runs and fewer than five innings).
Tomlin’s first pitch of Tuesday’s game against the Twins—
That put him within two home runs of Cleveland’s single-season record for dingers allowed by a pitcher (37). But he didn’t have much more time Tuesday to get closer to that mark—after allowing six more hits and three more runs, Tomlin was pulled in the second inning, with the Indians down 4-1.
But Cleveland’s offense avenged him quickly, evening the score in the bottom of the inning and pulling ahead in the fifth. The Twins went on to lose their 12th straight as they were kept scoreless by Cleveland’s bullpen (including Zach McAllister, who contributed this nifty hacky sack-esque catch):
There’s a pretty long list of ways that Edwin Diaz has been impressive in his strikeout-laden whirlwind of a rookie season. A full two-inning save is not among them. Tuesday marked the first time that Scott Servais tried relying on Diaz for both the eighth and the ninth—and it did not go well. After getting out of the jam that resulted from walking two in the eighth, Diaz came back out for the ninth to protect a one-run Mariners lead. Two batters later—an Adrian Beltre single and a Rougned Odor walk-off homer—the save was blown and the game was over, 8-7 Rangers.
Max Scherzer had yet another very good night—yet another game where he carried a no hitter into the sixth, yet another game where that relationship stalled at flirtatious banter. The Phillies managed to break up his shut-out in the seventh, but Scherzer still finished with 11 Ks and just one walk in the 3-2 Nationals win.
What to Watch on Wednesday
Taking two games in a row against the White Sox has helped to keep the Tigers in the heart of the wild card race. But going for the sweep will require facing Chris Sale, who’s looking to follow up the 14-strikeout affair that was his most recent game and one of his finest of the year. Detroit will likewise have its best pitcher on the mound, in Justin Verlander, for a match-up of the aces (1:10 EST).
Rich Hill’s long-awaited debut as a Dodger last week was a success, six scoreless innings with a few sightings of the curveball that highlight reels had been so dearly missing for the past two months. He’ll try to repeat it Wednesday against Jeff Hoffman and the Rockies. After Tuesday’s game was postponed due to rain, Hill will start the second game of what is now a day-night doubleheader (8:10 EST, following game one at 3:10 EST).