Rockies’ Jimenez is majors’ first 10-game winner
SAN FRANCISCO – Ubaldo Jimenez felt the hype from Denver to the Dominican Republic. From his Facebook friends near and far, and even over the e-mail channels.
The soft-spoken Rockies ace keeps living up to every bit of the positive attention he’s receiving.
Jimenez pitched a four-hitter to become the majors’ first 10-game winner this year, outpitching Tim Lincecum to lead Colorado past the San Francisco Giants 4-0 in Monday’s highly anticipated Memorial Day matchup.
“My Adrenalin was really high,” Jimenez said. “Everyone was expecting that game – my parents, neighbors, everyone back in my country, and in Denver, too. … Everyone was expecting that game and waiting to get in front of the TV.”
The 26-year-old pitcher didn’t disappoint. He’s making an early push for this year’s Cy Young Award, though insists, “I don’t even think about that.”
Clint Barmes hit a two-run single in the second inning that held up for Jimenez (10-1), who struck out nine, lowered his big league-best ERA to 0.78 and extended his career-best scoreless innings streak to 26. He pitched his fourth career complete game, second career shutout and second this year.
Lincecum (5-2), making his 100th start and matched up with Jimenez for the fourth time, walked five for the fourth straight start and the Giants had their four-game winning streak snapped.
In a game featuring two of baseball’s top right-handers, Jimenez improved to 3-1 head-to-head against Lincecum, the reigning two-time NL Cy Young winner. Jimenez retired nine straight before a two-out double to Pablo Sandoval in the ninth and a walk to Aubrey Huff that brought manager Jim Tracy to the mound for a visit. Jimenez got Juan Uribe on a liner to left to end the 128-pitch gem in 2 hours, 38 minutes.
Tracy looked Jimenez in the eyes and twice asked him how he felt. The skipper received an emphatic reply of “I’m fine.”
“I’m actually beginning to run out of words really to describe not only the excellence but the dominance in which this guy is pitching up to this point – 10-1, 0.78 ERA and tomorrow is the first of June. Enough said,” Tracy said. “He’s as good as it gets for two months. We’re going to play for four more months and we’ll see.”
Jimenez became the 15th pitcher since 1952 to win 10 or more games by June 1, with Brandon Webb the last to do it in 2008.
Todd Helton doubled in a run in the fifth as the Rockies kicked off a six-game road trip against the division in impressive fashion. Colorado added another run in the sixth on reliever Dan Runzler’s throwing error trying for a pickoff at first.
The Rockies know they only need to give Jimenez a couple of runs and he will take care of the rest.
“It’s pretty hard to describe how he does throw the ball every time he goes out and pitches – he’s unbelievable,” Helton said. “It’s dominating stuff as usual.”
Barmes recorded his first career hit off Lincecum with the single. Barmes was 0 for 11 with four strikeouts against Lincecum coming into the game. Lincecum gave up consecutive walks to start the inning to Troy Tulowitzki on five pitches and then Brad Hawpe.
Both righties had to throw plenty of pitches early – Lincecum 43 and Jimenez 40 through two innings. Lincecum’s 32-pitch second inning followed a 1-2-3 first on 11 pitches.
Sandoval singled up the middle on the seventh pitch he saw from Jimenez and added another base hit in the fourth before the double in the ninth. Freddy Sanchez’s sixth-inning single was the Giants’ lone other hit.
“I’m just proud for what I’ve been able to accomplish this year,” Jimenez said. “I’m feeling really confident.”
Jimenez, who pitched the first no-hitter in Rockies history at Atlanta on April 17, was clocked at 99 mph several times. Tracy committed his top defensive lineup to back the team’s ace.
“It’s 10-1, that’s a tremendous start,” Tracy said in continuing his praise of the pitcher. “And we know we’re a couple of base hits away from 11-0. He has not pitched a bad game and he has the mental focus that he’s not interested in pitching a bad game. He may not.”
Lincecum lost back-to-back starts for just the fourth time in his career and first since Sept. 20 and 25 last year. He was tagged for six runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-3 loss to Washington on Wednesday.
“I’m continuing to struggle here and it’s hard to find my way out of it,” Lincecum said. “I’m trying to take something out of every game and not dwell on the negative stuff too much. I went through a struggle like this my first year but this is still longer than I was hoping it would be.”
Giants rookie sensation Buster Posey, called up Saturday and was 6 for 9 with four RBIs in his first two games of 2010, was 0 for 3.
Notes: Jimenez, who walked two, threw 80 strikes. The 128 pitches matched his season high also done in the no-hitter. … Lincecum joins 37 others to make their first 100 starts with the Giants. Lincecum’s .714 winning percentage heading into Monday’s outing ranked him second among that group behind Sal Maglie at 60-19 (.759). … Rockies closer Huston Street will throw batting practice Tuesday at Triple-A Colorado Springs, a session pushed back a day based on availability of the field. Street is on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
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