If someone were to ask me who the top 5 pitchers in the NL that I would fear when the Phillies would face them, Colorado Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez would be right up there. Young Jimenez walked six while striking out 7 on Saturday but singled in 1 of the Rockies’ runs in their 3 run fourth inning outburst against Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami. Jimenez no-hit the Braves in the Rockies 4-0 win.
Although the Phils beat the Rockies in the 2009 division series, Jimenez gave them fits in game 1 and their series clinching game 4 win. And Phillies fans have still not forgotten his clutch 6 1/3 inning 1 run, 3 hit game 3 effort as the Rocks swept the Phils in the 2007 division series. Jimenez is indeed one of the most dangerous pitchers the Phils will face in 2010.
Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter in the Rockies’ 18-year history and the majors’ first this season, getting help from a spectacular catch by Dexter Fowler in the seventh inning… on Saturday night.
“It is every pitcher’s dream to be out there for nine innings and throw a no-hitter,” Jimenez said.
Firing fastballs that reached 98 mph into the ninth inning, Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter since White Sox ace Mark Buehrle tossed a perfect game in a 5-0 victory over Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009.
After walking the leadoff batter in the fifth inning—his sixth walk— Jimenez began working exclusively out of the stretch.
“In the fifth inning Bob Apodaca, he just came to me and was like ‘You’ve been throwing good from the stretch, why don’t you just give it a try?”’ Jimenez said of his pitching coach’s advice.
He retired the next 15 batters to end it, but the biggest assist he received was from Fowler, his center fielder.
With no outs in the seventh inning, Fowler made a diving catch in left-center on Troy Glaus’ sinking line drive, the Braves best chance for a hit.
“The way he dove, I was like unbelievable,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez (3-0) gave Fowler, an Atlanta native, a big hug.
“I appreciated that,” Fowler said.
Fowler said of the catch: “The ball hung up there long enough for me to go up there and get it. Usually if a ball goes up, I always think I had a chance to get it.”
There was no relief in the ninth, with the Braves’ 2-3-4 hitters coming to the plate.
“…Chipper and McCann,” Jimenez said. “They’re two of the best hitters in the league. Why did it have to be those guys? Can’t they give me a break or something?”
It didn’t matter. Jimenez was not going to be denied.
Jimenez thrust his arms in the air and was swarmed by teammates as he celebrated history for himself and his franchise.
The 26-year-old right-hander struck out seven and had an RBI single in the fourth inning.
“That was domination,” Jones said. “Only one ball came close to falling.”
Added McCann: “I’d never been no-hit. I’d never even seen a no-hitter, except on TV. … It was probably the best performance I’ve ever seen. He’s impressive.”
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he was worried as the walks piled up early in the game.
“Because it’s only his third start of the season, I start looking at the (pitch count),” Tracy said. “Is the pitch count intact enough to the point it doesn’t become ridiculous and you run the risk of jeopardizing a young man’s career?”