8/3/2014 8:20 P.M. ET
Slumping Cruz out of lineup for second time in '14
By David Wilson / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- The very scenario that Buck Showalter outlined on Sunday to illustrate Nelson Cruz's struggles reared its head during the eighth inning of the Orioles' 6-3 loss to the Mariners the night before.
After working the count to 2-2, Cruz swung at a pitch in the dirt for his third strikeout of the night. It was one of those sequences that have become familiar to the outfielder in recent weeks. He did everything right to get himself on base, except finish the at-bat.
"They're not getting him out," Showalter said. "He's getting himself out, mostly."
Cruz had just one hit in his last 28 at-bats entering Sunday. Since the All-Star break, he was 6-for-57 with 14 strikeouts and only one home run. Only one American League player with at least 20 at-bats since the All-Star break had a worse batting average than Cruz's .105.
The All-Star was out of the starting lineup for just the second time this season on Sunday afternoon. Delmon Young, who was serving as the designated hitter and batting cleanup for the second time this season, made his fourth consecutive start. David Lough made his second start of the homestand, batting seventh and playing left field.
"Looking for a little -- I won't say energy, because it means that other people don't have it," said Showalter, whose team has the AL's worst batting average and on-base percentage since the All-Star break. "You're always looking for something that kind of engages things."
Cruz's slump, though, has been the most noticeable. After emerging as a first-half AL Most Valuable Player candidate with a .287 average and 28 home runs, his struggles have coincided with the offense's worst stretch of the season.
The 34-year-old was on pace for 49 home runs at the break, a pace that no one expected Cruz to sustain for a full 162 games -- just like this slump likely won't last the rest of this season.
"You just try to shorten the bad times and stretch out the good ones," Showalter said. "There's nobody that stayed hot from Game 1 to Game 162. It's just who can shorten up the bad periods."
Ubaldo tosses six strong innings in rehab start
BALTIMORE -- Ubaldo Jimenez followed up a successful first rehab start with an excellent outing for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday. The starting pitcher allowed one run on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts against Buffalo. Jimenez threw 94 pitches over six innings.
Jimenez is set to return to the Orioles on Monday in Washington and will travel with the team to Toronto on Tuesday. He's expected to come off the disabled list later this week.
"This is the end of what he [and his representation] has agreed to," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said Sunday morning. "It was to one more. I'm not saying it was like pulling teeth or anything, but he has that right."
Jimenez was placed on the DL with a right ankle injury on July 13 after he stepped in a pothole near his apartment. Jimenez was 3-8 with a 4.52 ERA before landing on the DL. He leads the American League with 60 walks.
"He's champing at the bit to get back," Showalter said. "You can tell. He wasn't overly enamored with him doing it again, but we are trying to get him up to 100 pitches."
• Pitching coach Dave Wallace is back in Baltimore after a two-game absence to attend his daughter's wedding.
• The O's were a Major League-best 20-11 against the AL West this season entering Sunday, and the team has better than a .600 record against the division for the second straight season. That hasn't happened since 1979-80.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.