No one is happier it's May than Ubaldo Jimenez and Ricky Nolasco.
Jimenez, the Orioles righty, who departed for Minnesota on Thursday afternoon, is 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA in his first five games with Baltimore. The Orioles' largest free agent pitching acquisition in team history, Jimenez has yet to turn in a quality start and has allowed 33 hits and 17 walks over 27 1/3 innings in the season's first month.
"I'm trying to do everything possible to be there for the team," Jimenez, a notoriously slow starter, said after his last outing.
"I know things have to change. Hopefully I get it going in May. It seems like every time I go out there I find a way to lose the game."
Nolasco joined the Twins on a four-year, $49 million deal this offseason and is also off to a rough start with a 6.67 ERA in five games. He pitched into the seventh inning against the Rays in his last start on April 24, but gave up two runs in his final inning, allowing six runs overall on 10 hits over six-plus innings.
"I thought I did a decent job, but once again you look at the line, and it's a lot worse than it should be," Nolasco said. "It's unbelievable. But what can you do?"
Both pitchers will try to get on the right track in the series opener at Target Field. Jimenez will face a familiar foe as he returns to the American League Central, where he spent three years with the Indians. Jimenez is 3-3 with a 2.90 ERA in six career stats against Minnesota, including 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA in four games at Target Field.
Orioles: Machado returns to the lineup
Fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards had waited a long time to cheer for Manny Machado. They didn't even bother to wait for the 21-year-old third baseman officially to make his 2014 debut before rooting for one of baseball's rising stars.
"It was awesome, it was awesome," Machado said following his first game since suffering a season-ending knee injury last September 23 and undergoing surgery in October.
Roars started earlier in the day when Machado warmed up before Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Pirates. They started again when he was announced as the Orioles' second hitter during pregame introductions before Game 2.
They grew even louder as fans stood when Machado batted for the first time in the first inning of a game Baltimore eventually won 6-5 on Matt Wieters' walk-off home run in the 10th.
"I had to take all of it in," said Machado, who went hitless in five at-bats. "For the fans to go out there and cheer for me once I went out there and ran a couple of sprints, and then I got a standing [ovation] when I came up to the plate, I want to give thanks to all the fans for coming out and supporting us. Hopefully it's going to be a big a year for us."
The Orioles trailed 4-0 and 5-4, but tied the game on Nick Markakis' home run in the seventh. The bullpen pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and Wieters ended the contest just before 1 a.m. Friday morning.
"First day back, walk-off win," Machado said. "Great game, great pitching staff, great two games. Couldn't be happier."
Same goes for his manager, who no longer has to use a rotation at third base.
"What we missed as much as anything is the stability he gave us in the infield," Buck Showalter said of Machado, who cleanly handled his defensive opportunities. "I kept asking him after about the sixth inning how he felt and he finally gave me that look like, 'Don't ask me anymore.'"
Machado showed no hesitancy in the field. He did admit to thinking about becoming the hero leading off the top of the ninth. Machado ultimately popped up in the infield after nothing but groundouts in his previous four plate appearances.
"It crosses your mind a little bit, I'm not going to lie," Machado said. "But you have to stay with the moment, stay with the pitch. Just take it one pitch at a time. The pitcher came up with a win there, but I'll bounce back from it."
Twins: Colabello gets rare breather
With a doubleheader against the Dodgers on Thursday, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire gave Chris Colabello a break in Game 1, as he started on the bench for the first time since April 2.
Colabello had an impressive April, hitting .295/.343/.484 while setting a club record with 27 RBIs in 24 games. But he went just 1-for-17 to end the month, and Gardenhire said it'll be up to Colabello to make adjustments as the season goes along.
"There are going to be a lot of adjustments from other teams and what they've seen from him," Gardenhire said. "There's a lot of old information from last year, but now that we're a month in, they'll start using the new information this year. It all starts coming together where you have enough info from the first three weeks to a month of this season where you can forget about last season."
Gardenhire said he believes Colabello can build off April, as he's improved as a hitter since 2013, when he hit .194 with seven homers and 17 RBIs as a rookie. Colabello has made a few mechanical adjustments, and he also stands closer to the plate this year. But teams have more scouting reports on Colabello this season, and Gardenhire believes teams will try to use that to their advantage going forward.