And while the right-hander -- signed to a four-year, $50 million deal this winter -- lacked command, Jimenez managed to work out of several jams to turn in a quality start.
Whether the six-inning outing -- in which he tied a season-high five walks -- was enough for Baltimore to be encouraged was unclear. But it wasn't enough to counter an Orioles offense held in check by Blue Jays righty Drew Hutchison, who fired seven dominant innings as the O's lost, 4-0, at Camden Yards in a series-evening defeat.
"We just didn't do much offensively," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of his club, which has scored one run total over its last three losses. "[Jimenez] presented himself better. The walks are still an issue, but I thought his stuff was better. Down in the zone a little more against a good-hitting team."
Baltimore (34-32) was fortunate that Hutchison -- at only 96 pitches -- was lifted due to a 21-minute rain delay, and looked poised to get things going after a pair of one-out singles off reliever Brett Cecil. But after Cecil exited mid at-bat to Chris Davis with left groin tightness, Dustin McGowan kept the O's in check, striking out Davis and retiring Nelson Cruz on a groundout, with the call standing after a replay review.
"He's got a good angle on his ball, so he kind of starts out behind you, and he's able to sink it and run it and got a real tight slider, and run it up there at 93," Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph said of how Hutchison was able to baffle the O's. "Just kept us off balance, and couldn't get anything going off of him. Credit him. Ubaldo pitched great, but their guy pitched just a little bit better."
The defeat dropped Jimenez to 0-6 at home, and in front of a sellout crowd of 44,031 on Friday, as the right-hander is winless since May 8. Are the Orioles, who have lost 11 of Jimenez's 14 starts, struggling to keep up a good offensive tempo with him on the hill?
"I'd hate to think that," Showalter said of Jimenez, who is 2-8 with a 4.86 ERA. "That's a very convenient way to perceive it and find that angle, but we didn't score any runs tonight. No matter how he pitched, we didn't score any runs. And I thought he gave us a good chance to win a baseball game tonight. Most times, two runs against the club through six innings ... I thought he showed a little something there with the last out, because it was a tough decision whether to leave him in, and to get [Edwin] Encarnacion out in that situation, that's a pretty good finish for him, so hopefully that will carry over."
Early on, Jimenez looked like he was destined to have another short departure, issuing a walk and single to put runners on the corners before he could record an out. But he got an inning-ending double play, the first of two over the first two innings, and also benefited from Joseph catching Anthony Gose stealing to end the fifth. Joseph, who took a pitch to his right hand earlier in the game, stayed in and said the replay looked worse than it was.
And perhaps the same can be said for Jimenez, who only had one walk come around to score -- on Juan Francisco's two-run homer in the second -- as the righty was able to hold a scuffling Blue Jays lineup in check. Jimenez had two clean innings in the 101-pitch outing, scattering three hits and exiting in favor of Tommy Hunter after turning in his second quality start in his last six games.
"I was able to hang in for the team," said Jimenez, who tried to emphasize fastball command more. "I was able to at least get a quality start. I still have a lot of work. That's something that I need to still work on. But I was good. I was OK."
Hutchison was better.
The right-hander continued his dominance over the Orioles, turning in his third scoreless outing in five career starts. After leaving the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth -- which ended on Jonathan Schoop's warning-track flyout -- J.J. Hardy gave the Orioles a leadoff double in the seventh. But Hutchison got a trio of flyouts to center to keep Hardy cemented at second before the rain.
"I think I've just made good pitches in those particular games," Hutchison said of his 2-0 record and 1.16 ERA against Baltimore. "I had a good game plan and executed good pitches."
Jimenez showed flashes of that on Friday but turned in his second consecutive five-walk outing. Still, he saw it as a step forward when compared to the 2 1/3 innings he went in his previous start against Oakland.
"It wasn't that bad," he said of his command on Friday. "Just was a couple hitters, I got with two strikes and tried to be too fine with it. Overall, I think I was pounding the strike zone. If you take away the five walks to those guys, I felt good. I was able to attack the strike zone."
"I don't think it's a pace issue," Joseph said of the team's record with Jimenez. "It seems like there's one guy every year, and there's really no rhyme or reason to it. Pretty sure every guy in here wants to win every single day. It's one of those weird coincidences. The games he has really pitched well, we don't score runs for him. His record indicates that. We're trying out there as best as we can to win the game. He's giving us a chance, so we have a chance."
Hunter, after firing a scoreless seventh inning, allowed a pair of runs to extend the Orioles' deficit to 4-0 in the eighth. Gose worked a leadoff walk and advanced to third on Jose Reyes' grounder that deflected off Hunter and went through Schoop's legs at second. Gose scored on Hunter's wild pitch and, one out later, Jose Bautista's RBI single chased Hunter in favor of righty Josh Stinson. Stinson recorded the final five outs.