Jimenez returns to rotation as Orioles host Cardinals
Sports Xchange - Sunday 18th June, 2017
BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter is scrambling to get his team out of its recent slide.
The Orioles took a positive step Saturday with a dominant 15-7 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals that evened their three-game set. In the series finale Sunday, Showalter will provide Ubaldo Jimenez another opportunity to prove he can an effective starter. Jimenez takes the spot of Alec Asher, who had replaced him in the rotation, but also struggled.
Showalter is optimistic that Jimenez's time in the bullpen helped his mechanics. The right-hander has not started since May 22, when he gave up six runs on nine hits over four innings against the Twins.
"Ubaldo has responded well to some time in the bullpen," Showalter said. "We'll see if that happens again. We really want to try to see if we can solidify the bullpen a little bit as far as some of the movement there.
"(Asher) did a good job there and presented himself well as a starter sometimes. But it's as much because Ubaldo pitches, he needs three or four days off. It really put is in a tough spot in the bullpen. Plus, he's shown a history of responding well to a little time down there. But it's as much for the bullpen as it is for Ubaldo."
Jimenez is 3-3 with a 3.45 ERA in nine career starts against St. Louis.
Asher has allowed at least five runs in three of his past four outings and has not earned a win since April 26. His struggles have mirrored almost the entire starting rotation, which will have to get better quickly before the season completely unravels.
Asher entered in the sixth inning Saturday and gave up a three-run homer to Dexter Fowler.
Saturday's victory was only the second in the last 10 games for the Orioles.
Baltimore has been forced to play with several key players on the disabled list, including closer Zach Britton, set-up man Darren O'Day, first baseman Chris Davis and versatile infielder Ryan Flaherty.
Despite dealing with injuries, the Orioles' lineup is still one of the most powerful in the majors. Baltimore hit five homers against St. Louis on Saturday. However, Cardinals' manager Mike Matheny is confident his team can match that type of offense.
"Those grinding at-bats can be contagious," Matheny said. "The young guys are jumping in and having exceptional at-bats."
The Cardinals' Lance Lynn (5-3, 2.69 ERA) will try to keep Baltimore off-balance.
In his last outing, Lynn picked up his first win since May 5 with five scoreless innings and eight strikeouts in a 6-0 victory over Milwaukee. Despite allowing four walks, he was encouraged by his performance against the Brewers.
He missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, so the Cardinals have monitored his pitch count.
"I had good stuff," said Lynn, who is 1-0 with a 3.52 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against Baltimore. "I was just missing here and there at times."
Lynn has been one of the Cardinals' most consistent pitchers and put together a four-game winning streak earlier in the season.
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