Jimenez gets rocked, Orioles suffer fifth straight setback
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ubaldo Jimenez kept the ball down in the strike zone for five innings Monday night, and the Kansas City Royals kept flailing at pitches as if they were waving at air.
When his pitches began to creep up in the sixth, the Royals took advantage.
Jimenez was pounded for six of the seven runs Kansas City scored in that frame, and the Royals went on to beat Baltimore 8-3 to open their four-game series.
"That's the tough thing about baseball," Jimenez said. "Everything keeps changing."
Game to game, inning to inning, pitch to pitch.
Adam Jones hit a two-run homer off Kris Medlen to help the Orioles to a 3-1 lead, but things went haywire in a hurry. Mike Moustakas hit a two-run shot in the sixth, and Omar Infante added a two-run triple before scampering home when the throw to third skittered away. Lorenzo Cain had two more RBIs later in the inning before the damage was finally done.
Jimenez (9 -8) wound up allowing seven runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
"He just started elevating some fastballs and they made him pay for it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He was really commanding the ball well and just didn't that inning."
Kris Medlen (2-0) made the most of it. He allowed five hits over six innings while striking out six and walking none in his first start since Sept. 27, 2013, with Atlanta.
Medlen, who returned last month after his second Tommy John surgery, made seven appearances out of the Kansas City bullpen before replacing Jeremy Guthrie in the starting rotation.
"I tried not to make it about myself," Medlen said. "I said from the get-go, I don't want this to be a, 'Yay, you made it, kind of thing.' I wanted to come out and produce."
The loss was the fifth straight for Baltimore and sixth in seven games. It carried a little added sting in that it was the first meeting between the teams since the Royals swept the Orioles in the AL Championship Series on their surprising run to the World Series.
The two-run homer by Jones and a run-scoring double by Steve Clevenger in the fourth inning got the Orioles off to a good start, and Jimenez was cruising through five. The only run he had allowed was on an RBI groundout by Eric Hosmer in the third inning.
Things finally unraveled for Jimenez in the sixth.
Hosmer doubled with one out and Moustakas sent a pitch soaring into the right-field stands to knot the game 3-all. Salvador Perez singled, Alex Rios hit a double and Infante sent a triple into the gap in left-center, sliding into third base ahead of the throw. When it skipped away to the third-base dugout, Infante clambered to his feet and chugged on home.
Alcides Escobar and Ben Zobrist followed with hits before Cain's two-run double made it a seven-run inning, matching a season best for the Royals.
Medlen's night was done by that point. He threw 69 pitches, one fewer than manager Ned Yost had said was his limit. Bullpen buddies Franklin Morales and Luke Hochevar did the rest.
"He gave up a couple of early runs," Moustakas said, "but you can't ask for much more from someone making their first start in two or three years."
TWO OUTS, NO PROBLEMS
The Royals went 9 for 16 with two outs, pushing their major league-leading average to .283 in those situations.
CLEVENGER TAKES LEAVE
Clevenger extended his season-high hitting streak to eight games, though No. 9 will have to wait. He's leaving the team to be with his pregnant wife, who will be induced on Tuesday. "Hopefully this time tomorrow, we'll have a nice little addition to the club," Showalter said.
Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy (groin) went on the DL and INF-OF Steve Pearce (left oblique) was reinstated. ... RHP Mike Wright (calf) will start for Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday.
Royals: First base coach Rusty Kuntz was back at work after missing 13 days with a si nus infection and stomach virus. Kuntz said he lost more than 10 pounds during the illness.
Orioles: RHP Miguel Gonzalez tries to bounce back from an awful start against Minnesota in which he allowed seven runs in five innings of a 15-2 rout.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy has dominated the Orioles in three career outings, going 1-1 with a 1.46 ERA. Last May, he retired the first 20 batters he faced.