(AP) — Ubaldo Jimenez headed to spring training needing to earn back his spot in the Baltimore Orioles’ rotation after an extremely disappointing 2014 campaign.
The work he put in showed in his 2015 debut.
Jimenez takes the mound Friday night against the Boston Red Sox looking to help the visiting Orioles win a third straight contest.
After signing a four-year, $50 million contract – the largest Baltimore ever has given to a free-agent pitcher – Jimenez went just 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA and was relegated to the bullpen toward the end of last season.
Jimenez developed new mechanics in the spring and confused Toronto on Saturday, though, as he allowed one hit and struck out eight in seven scoreless innings of a 7-1 win.
“You have to forget about what happened in the past and you have to forget quick,” Jimenez said. “It doesn’t matter whether it is good or bad. You can’t do anything with the past.”
Manager Buck Showalter was waiting for that type of performance.
“(Saturday) was a good reminder why he’s been a good quality major league starter for a long time,” Showalter said. “If you’ve got any type of heart or feelings at all, you know how much it means for him to contribute.”
Jimenez’s solid effort marked the only victory for Baltimore (5-4) in a five-game stretch before it took the final two of a three-game set from the Yankees. Chris Davis drove in three runs in Wednesday’s 7-5 win for the Orioles, who will play their first 19 against their AL East counterparts.
“It’s nice to be tested early in the year,” Davis said. “We’re playing our division pretty much this whole month, and it’s good to kind of see where we’re at and get a chance to see these guys.”
Jimenez has found facing the Red Sox to be quite challenging. He’s 1-3 with a 9.37 ERA in seven career regular-season starts against them and 0-2 with an 8.00 ERA in four outings at Fenway Park, including Game 2 of the 2007 World Series with Colorado.
Boston (6-3) scored 17 runs while winning its first two home games of 2015 before falling 10-5 to Washington in Wednesday’s series finale. Pablo Sandoval didn’t start after getting hit by a pitch in his foot Tuesday, but manager John Farrell said the third baseman could have played.
Sandoval, hitting .324 with two homers, a triple and two doubles in his career off Jimenez, should be in the lineup for this contest.
“We came away with a series win,” Farrell said. “I will say that we have the capability, from a starting (pitching) standpoint, to keep a game under control, and that needs to be more consistent than this turn through the rotation.”
The Red Sox begin this four-game set by sending Joe Kelly to the hill as he looks to build on a solid season debut.
Kelly gave up one run and one hit while striking out eight in seven innings of Saturday’s 8-4 win over the Yankees. He started the season on the 15-day disabled list because of right biceps tightness.
“I’m just happy I came out and made it through the game healthy,” Kelly said. “That’s not what I expected. I went out there and just tried to attack the zone. … I was still trying to build up my pitch count and innings. Hopefully from here on out I can try to get to that 100-pitch mark.”
Kelly made two starts against the Orioles after coming over in a trade with St. Louis last season and went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA.