Ubaldo's 5-inning start continues trend for O's

Bullpen continues to be taxed as Baltimore starters can't get deep into outings

Ubaldo's 5-inning start continues trend for O's

DETROIT -- Another game, another five-inning start. At least that's what it feels like for the Orioles, who are dealing with an overworked bullpen and a rotation -- with the exception of Dylan Bundy -- that's struggling to get into the sixth.

Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez was the latest culprit in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Tigers, giving up five earned runs over five innings to leave his season ERA at 6.52 and again force the 'pen to pick up the slack.

Jimenez, who failed to get to the sixth for the fifth time in seven starts, acknowledged that it was especially frustrating given that Baltimore emptied its bullpen in Tuesday's 13-inning win.

The O's added two relievers on Wednesday and are constantly shuffling the roster around to cover for short starts. The relief corps has picked up 24 2/3 innings on a 1-5 road trip, and there's no long-term solution -- other than for the current rotation to pitch better -- in sight.

"[You're] managing [the bullpen] from Norfolk and Bowie," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the team's Triple-A and Double-A affiliates. "We had to use a lot of guys to win the game last night, as did [Tigers manager] Brad [Ausmus]. The difference was they had a guy who went seven innings [in Michael Fulmer on Wednesday]."

The Orioles, who had an off-day Monday, aren't off again until May 25. They have to find a way to get on track, as even their Minor League options are dwindling with the 10-day minimum stay rule when a player in optioned (excluding an injury).

But that day wasn't Wednesday, as Jimenez -- who ran up a high pitch count early, including throwing 28 in the first inning -- allowed eight hits and walked three.

"He's not the only one. We are having a lot of trouble getting through that fifth inning," Showalter said. "Quite frankly, seems like it's that way all around the league. I think getting to the seventh inning is at an all-time low in Major League Baseball history right now. It's tough. But he's capable of better."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.