Worley's endurance eases pressure on O's 'pen

Righty tosses 4 1/3 innings in relief, matching career high

Worley's endurance eases pressure on O's 'pen

CLEVELAND -- The bullpen phone at Progressive Field rang much sooner than anyone had anticipated. In Saturday's 11-4 loss to the Indians, the Orioles made a call to the 'pen in the first inning. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter ordered right-handed reliever Vance Worley to begin warming up.

Worley wouldn't be needed in the first, as starter Ubaldo Jimenez finally escaped after facing the entire Tribe lineup and surrendering four runs (one earned). However, things did not fare much better in the second, and Showalter had no choice but to pull the plug on Jimenez after just 1 2/3 innings.

"Just command," Showalter said. "He's not able to get the ball where he needs to get it. Some walks and deep counts take away the possibility [of a pitch] other than a fastball. … But [a] 30-something pitch inning got everybody on their heels."

Worley came on and surrendered an RBI single before getting the final out in the second inning. But Worley battled and wound up spinning 4 1/3 innings, matching his career high for a relief appearance. He gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits.

"When the game is where it's at, you're going in trying to limit the damage," Worley said. "I was trying to keep the guys in it. I was trying to work as quick as I can to get the guys off their feet and back into the dugout so they can swing it and put some runs on the board."

Worley may have surrendered his first run as a reliever -- a streak that had accumulated a league-best 16 innings prior to Saturday -- but his relief job was more than worthy of praise after the game. During the time frame that Worley toed the rubber, both clubs each scored two runs in an otherwise lopsided affair.

Not only did Worley keep the gates from being completely blown open, but his longevity on the mound also kept the Orioles from depleting their bullpen. Baltimore wound up using three relievers for game two, but that number could have been far higher had Worley not stayed composed on the hill for so long.

"I would have liked to have gone one more [inning]," Worley said. "They said I went long enough. I think I left the game in a pretty good spot."

Worley's stint was necessary after Jimenez suffered his shortest outing since April 16, 2013, when he was in the other dugout. The former Tribe hurler went just 1 2/3 innings against Boston a few years ago and surrendered seven runs.

His most recent short start is the latest evidence of this season's slump, as he moved to 2-6 with a 6.36 ERA in 11 starts. Jimenez has spiraled downwards even further as of late. In his last four starts, he has given up 23 runs (19 earned) on 27 hits in 16 2/3 innings. He is posting an 0-3 record with an ERA north of 10.00 in that span.

"That's the thing about baseball," Jimenez said. "When things are going bad, everything falls apart. Whatever you do out there just doesn't go your way. But things change, and I have a feeling things are going to change."

Showalter agrees that he has the ability to turn it around.

"We have gone through some good times and some really tough times," Showalter said. "We know there is some good there. He's healthy and works hard. I see it between starts, he wants to be a consistent contributor. It's just not having it for him right now."

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.