BALTIMORE -- Top offseason acquisition Ubaldo Jimenez again failed to pick up his first win as a Baltimore Oriole, but the club had a much bigger concern following Friday night's 5-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
First baseman Chris Davis, the majors' reigning home run and RBI champ, was pulled before Friday's fifth inning with a strained left oblique.
He winced during his five-pitch at-bat in the third before flying out to right on a 97-mph fastball from Kansas City rookie Yordano Ventura.
Davis played in the field in the fourth but didn't come back in the fifth, replaced by Steve Lombardozzi, who played second base while Ryan Flaherty switched from second to first base and Jonathan Schoop moved from second to third base.
Davis played in 160 of the club's 162 games last year and had played in all 22 so far this season. He was batting .250 with two homers and 13 RBIs. He has never been on the disabled list in his professional career due to an oblique injury -- which can linger and often requires a disabled list stint.
The injury made a soggy, chilly night in Baltimore even more painful for the announced crowd of 22,478, which endured a 55-minute rain delay before the first pitch and another sub-par performance from Jimenez.
The lanky right-hander, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal in February, allowed four runs on six hits and four walks in six-plus innings Friday. After a rocky first in which he permitted two runs on a walk and three consecutive singles, Jimenez (0-4) settled down and threw five scoreless frames.
At one point, Jimenez retired 12 of 13 Royals, but he failed to get any outs in the seventh, walking the leadoff batter and then giving up two singles before exiting.
Lefty T.J. McFarland gave up another RBI single -- with the run charged to Jimenez -- before escaping the seventh. McFarland allowed another run in the ninth on a double by Oriole killer Billy Butler. The Royals' DH also had a run-scoring single in the first and now has 36 RBIs in 48 games versus Baltimore in his career.
The six innings tied Jimenez's longest outing as an Oriole -- matching the six he threw in his club debut on April 2. He has now lost four of his five starts with his new team and the club has lost all five games he has started.
The Orioles offense couldn't do anything against 22-year-old fireballer Yordano Ventura (2-1), who threw eight scoreless innings. He allowed seven hits and two walks while fanning eight and has surrendered two or fewer runs in three of his four 2014 starts.
The Orioles had some chances, but were hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position against Ventura.
The Orioles (11-11) fell to .500 while the Royals (11-11) moved back there.
They'll have more difficulty sustaining a winning record if they have to go a lengthy period without Davis.
Flaherty is considered the backup at first, especially after the club designated Steve Pearce for assignment Tuesday to make room for McFarland on the roster.
The Orioles had 10 days from Tuesday to release, trade or place Pearce on waivers. They are not able to pull him back; though they could bring him back if he passes through waivers unclaimed. Like all teams, the Orioles don't announce when they have placed someone on waivers -- but it is a 48-hour process once it occurs.
(c)2014 The Baltimore Sun
Visit The Baltimore Sun at www.baltimoresun.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services