BALTIMORE (AP) — There will almost certainly be times this season when Ubaldo Jimenez makes a couple mistakes on the mound without any consequences.
Against the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox and right-hander John Lackey, two home run balls were too much for the right-hander to overcome in his Orioles debut.
David Ortiz and Mike Napoli each connected off Jimenez, leading Boston to a 6-2 win over Baltimore on Wednesday night.
Signed to a four-year contract in February, Jimenez (0-1) allowed four runs, five hits and three walks in six innings. Ortiz hit a two-run drive in the third inning and Napoli went deep with a man on in the fifth.
Asked to assess Jimenez’s performance, manager Buck Showalter said: “Good. Make a couple mistakes. Wasn’t going to be much of a margin for error with Lackey.”
Lackey (1-0) gave up two runs, three hits and a walk in six innings. The right-hander is 14-5 with a 3.34 ERA in 24 career starts against Baltimore.
“He had command and he was throwing strikes and he was working fast,” Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. “It seemed like it was the fourth or fifth inning before we really started to see some pitches over the middle of the plate. You’ve got to tip your hat to him. When he can locate like that with his kind of stuff, you’re going to have success.”
Nelson Cruz hit his second homer in two games for the Orioles, now 1-1 after beating Boston on opening day. Baltimore’s power-laden lineup has produced only four runs thus far — all thanks to Cruz, who has three RBIs and a run scored.
Showalter believes the offense’s slow start can be attributed to facing Jon Lester and Lackey in the opening two games.
“Two good pitchers, two of the better pitchers in the American League last year,” the manager said. “I thought our pitcher did a pretty good job, with the exception of a couple hiccups. We pitched pretty well the last two games, but you’re going to have to pitch real well to compete with them. That’s why they were the last team standing last year. A good club and everything, but they pitch real well.”
Ortiz put the Red Sox up 2-0 in the third inning with a drive to right following a single by Dustin Pedroia, who finished with four hits. Ortiz was 0 for 7 lifetime against Jimenez before connecting.
Lackey gave up a leadoff single to Nick Markakis, then retired 11 straight before Chris Davis walked with two outs in the fourth. Cruz followed with an opposite-field drive to right on an 0-2 pitch.
In the fifth, Jimenez hit Daniel Nava with a pitch and Napoli homered on an 0-2 count.
“The one to David, that was a good pitch,” Jimenez said. “It seems like he was looking for that pitch and he hit it good. But the one to Napoli, I would definitely like to have that back. Oh-and-2, big mistake. I was trying to go away and left it right down the middle.”
Boston pulled away in the seventh against Ryan Webb. After two singles and an intentional walk to Ortiz loaded the bases, Napoli lined a two-run single to left. Napoli had a major league-leading 31 RBIs last year with the bases loaded.
“In that situation, you’ve got one out and the bases loaded, so I’m just trying to hit a flyball to get the run in,” Napoli said. “I just happened to get a base hit, so that’s extra. It’s nice to come through in those situations.”
NOTES: Thursday night’s series finale features a duel of left-handers: Boston’s Felix Doubront against Wei-Yin Chen. … Baltimore LHP Johan Santana, seeking to rebound from shoulder surgery, threw 30 pitches off a full mound Wednesday in Florida. “It’s encouraging to see that Johan’s throwing all his pitches,” Showalter said. … David Lough went 0 for 4 and Steve Lombardozzi went 1 for 3 in their Orioles debut. … Lackey has gone at least five innings in 23 of 24 starts against Baltimore.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)