MINNEAPOLIS -- For as rough as Ubaldo Jimenez's first half was, his second half started on a very high note off the field last weekend when his wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter, on Saturday. He made sure to hit the ground running on the field, too, turning in a solid five innings on Thursday night in the Orioles' 6-2 loss to the Twins at Target Field.
Jimenez, pitching for the first time since July 8, allowed just one run on five hits and struck out eight in a 104-pitch outing. The eight strikeouts were the most since he punched out nine on April 7, also against the Twins.
It was a welcome turnaround from the hard-throwing right-hander, who struggled to a 7.38 ERA in 18 appearances, including 17 starts, before the All-Star break. He had allowed a combined 11 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in his last two starts.
"He's had a lot of good things happen in his life lately, and it gives you a chance to step back and realize that the sky's not always falling," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "He gave us a chance to win tonight, and I was proud of him."
"I really needed this," Jimenez said. "It's been a long time since I've faced hitters, and it felt great to be out there and be with my teammates. That's what we play for -- to be out there and try to compete and win every night. We didn't get a win, but we have to move on. It felt really good."
Showalter thought that Jimenez was overthrowing a bit early on due to his excitement in being back on the mound for the first time in three weeks. Jimenez allowed a single to Robbie Grossman and an RBI triple to Joe Mauer in the first, but settled down and allowed only three hits in the next four innings. He left the game with the Orioles leading, 2-1.
Jimenez, who didn't factor into the decision, is now 4-1 with a 1.81 ERA in seven career starts at Target Field.
"It was different," Jimenez said. "I had command of my fastball. I had command of my breaking balls. I was able to throw them behind in the count. I had everything tonight."
Despite Jimenez's triumphant return, the stout Orioles bullpen didn't have its usual dominant form and let the game slip away. Relievers Odrisamer Despaigne and Chaz Roe combined to allow five runs over the course of the sixth and seventh innings. Despaigne, who struggled to keep his pitches down in the zone, was charged with a season-high four runs in 1 1/3 innings of work and took the loss.
Entering the game, the Baltimore bullpen had been third in the Majors with a 2.99 ERA, behind only the Dodgers (2.97) and the Astros (2.98).
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. He covered the Orioles on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.