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Rocky Mountain Cy 05/04/2010

Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
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Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez

In the bizarro world that is Major League Baseball, perhaps the oddest event of all is that a pitching star has emerged in Colorado. The rarified air of Coors Field is the home of Ubaldo Jimenez. The home of the Blake Street Bombers and 15-13 games hosts one of the best pitchers in the game. You can’t pitch at altitude, right? I can hear the cries of unfair humidor advantage already! Jimenez threw the season’s first, and so far only, no-hitter at Atlanta on April 17th.

Just a fluke, right? Wrong. In his 3 starts since the no-hitter, he has gone 3-0, allowing only one run on 11 hits and 6 walks in 20 1/3 innings pitched. Oh, and he has struck out 24 batters over that stretch. He is 6-0 so far this season with an astonishing 0.87 ERA. He is a workhorse. In his no-hitter, he threw 128 pitches. He seemed to have lost nothing, however, as his last pitch was a 97 mph fastball. He has thrown 115 or more pitches in 4 of his six starts this season. The concern among the talking heads is that he is being used too much, but he topped that count 10 times last season, with an additional 11 starts of pitch counts between 105-114. He was 15-12 last season. Something clicked during the all-star break, however, because he went 9-3 after July 17th. He is 15-3 in his last 18 decisions. His current 6 game winning streak is the second such streak in this run.

The Rockies have ridden the right arm to a 6-0 record in games he has staarted this season. They are 7-13 in the other games so far this season.

[The guy is filthy right now. He topped the 100 mph mark several times last night while setting his game career high of 13 strike outs. The only time he got in trouble, and had his 26 inning scoreless streak come to an end was when he went to the curveball too much. His sinker was simply untouchable again last night. He shows no signs of stopping any time soon. While he will not finish with an ERA under one, he is only the fifth pitcher in recent times to start 5-0 with a sub one ERA. Each of the other 4 won the Cy Young award. While it is too early to talk that award, especially with the likes of Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay in the National League, it is not to early to say that the NL pitcher of the month for April is off to an early lead. Rocky Mountain High may just become Rocky Mountain Cy.

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Ubal-NO 04/18/2010

Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
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Jimenez throws a pitch Saturday

Like most things human, the game pitched by Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was far from perfect. Still, it was a masterpiece. Jimenez’s gem was only the 264th no-hitter in MLB history. 264 sounds like a lot. No big deal, really, untill you realize that there have been over 190,000 games played in MLB history.

Complain all you want about the 6 walks allowed, as if that somehow diminishes the accomplishment. Sure, the control was not there at the beginning. Still, this 26-year-old did something most pictures never do. Not one batter reached base safely via a batted ball. None. Nada. Center fielder Dexter Fowler made a tremendous catch in the 7th inning to save the feat. We have all seen that catch on highlight shows many times by now. If you didn’t actually watch the game, you may not know that Fowler also made a merely spectacular catch in the same inning. That will not diminish the feat. Almost all no-hitters have a key play or two that define the event. What many do not talk about is how Jimenez contributed to the game offensively. In the 4th inning, he came to the plate with two outs and two runners on. The Rockies were leading 1-0 at the time. He singled to center, driving in a run and advancing Ian Stewart from first to third, then took 2nd on the throw. That heads up base running play allowed him to score on Carlos Gonzalez’s double Instead of a 1-0 lead had he made an out, the Rockies finished the 4th, and the game for that matter, with a 4-0 lead. This game showed the ability of Jimenez.

Jiminez is mobbed by his teammmates after the final out

The thing is that the no-hitter came as no surprise to his teammates. Jimenez played a big role late in the 2007 season as the Rockies went on their mad run to the World Series. He won 15 games last season. To a man last night, including Manager Jim Tracey and long time Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, two old vets that are hard to impress, the Rockies talked about how they knew it would happen sooner or later for this guy. Some have been saying it since ’07. He has crazy good stuff. He consistently goes deep into games. He was in the top 5 in innings and pitches thrown in the NL last season. He makes it look effortless. In fact, his fastball was constantly hitting the speed gun at over 95 mph all night. The final pitch he threw was clocked at 98 mph. It was his 128th pitch of the evening! His teammates say he is a great guy. A real class act. One of the hardest workers on the team. As if to prove the point, did this guy rest on a job well done? Nope. There he was early Sunday morning, finishing his 6 mile run, just like he does after every start.

Congrats, Ubaldo! Keep that work ethic and this highlight is just a beginning for you. One thing is for sure. Ubaldo Jimenez is no longer one of the best pitchers that no one has heard of.

The Turner Field score board tells the story