Tag:Ubaldo Jimenez
Posted on: April 17, 2011 9:43 pm

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

The Giants are in Colorado this week, for the first time since Tim Lincecum complained about the "juiced balls" at Coors Field . . . in a game where he allowed just two hits in eight innings.

That'd be a good place to start 3 to watch.

The Angels are in Texas this week, for the first time since the Rangers ended their run of three straight American League West titles.

That'd be a good place to start 3 to watch.

Forget it. So far as I can tell, only one player was so excited about this week's schedule that he tweeted Sunday that he was "on to KC for a 1st place battle."

It was Indians closer Chris Perez. Or @ChrisPerez54 , as he's known on Twitter.

And he's right. The first-place Indians are in Kansas City this week, to meet the second-place Royals.

Now that's the place to start 3 to watch. So far as I can tell, there's never been a true first-place battle between the Indians and Royals.

The only time they finished first and second in the same division, in 1995, the Indians won the AL Central by 30 games and the second-place Royals were actually under .500.

It's been 11 years since both the Indians and Royals both had winning records on the morning of April 18. Charlie Manuel was the Indians manager the last time it happened.

And, of course, it wasn't supposed to happen this year.

The Royals were pointing towards 2012 or 2013, when their best-in-baseball prospects arrive. The Indians were pointing towards sometime in the future, too.

To be honest, the Royals and Indians should have been pointing towards the future. They still should be, but you can't blame either team for celebrating some early success.

If nothing else, they've proven that they won't be pushovers for the White Sox, Tigers and Twins, the teams expected to battle for the AL Central title. The Royals have already impressed opponents with their gritty play and with their bullpen (especially Tim Collins and Jeremy Jeffress). The Indians have impressed opponents with their strong starting rotation.

There will be plenty of time to talk about the Rockies and Giants, and the Rangers and Angels, and even the Yankees and Blue Jays, the fourth pair of first- and second-place teams that will meet this week.

This week of first-place battles belongs to the Indians and Royals.

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Rockies, in their entire 18-year history, have never won a division title. They've been to the playoffs three times, but all as wild cards (including in 2007, when they went to the World Series). If they're going to be as good as they think they can be ("You want to become that Philadelphia Phillies-type team," Troy Tulowitzki said last week), then they'd better start winning titles. That means beating San Francisco, and this week, including Giants at Rockies, Tuesday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field would be a good place to start. The Giants have their top three starting pitchers going in the series. The Rockies get their ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, back on Tuesday, after he missed two weeks because of a cut on his thumb.

2. The Angels are missing Kendrys Morales. The Rangers are missing Josh Hamilton. But as of Sunday, Matt Harrison was third in the American League in ERA, and Jered Weaver was fourth. And it'll be Harrison facing Weaver, in Angels at Rangers, Wednesday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark .

3. OK, so Harrison and Weaver are third and fourth in the AL in ERA. You know who's fourth? One hint: He plays for Cleveland. It's Justin Masterson, who was acquired from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade and until this year was best known for not being able to pitch to left-handed hitters. His left-right splits aren't great this year, either (righties hit .103, lefties .273), but Masterson has already beaten the White Sox, Mariners and Orioles. His next start comes in Indians at Royals, Wednesday night (8:10 ET) at Kauffman Stadium.

Posted on: April 11, 2011 6:41 pm

Rockies get CarGo back, Helton soon

NEW YORK -- The Rockies are getting healthier.

Carlos Gonzalez returned to the lineup Monday night against the Mets, after missing a start Sunday in Pittsburgh because he was sick. Todd Helton, who hasn't started since Thursday because of a back problem, was available to pinch-hit Monday and could return to the lineup within the next few days.

Meanwhile, starter Ubaldo Jimenez is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday in Arizona, and the Rockies are hopeful he can return to the rotation next Monday at home against the Giants.

Gonzalez was so sick over the weekend that he had trouble sleeping.

"I felt like my legs were hanging from the ceiling," he said.

Helton's back condition was a bigger concern, but he has improved considerably.

"Two days ago, he was somewhat touch and go, as far as I was concerned," manager Jim Tracy said.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 11:04 am

3 to watch: The Remember it's September edition

The big series in the National League West this weekend, as you may have heard, is taking place at Petco Park.

The Rockies are not there.

"That's great for the Rockies," ex-Colorado outfielder Brad Hawpe said this week. "It takes the attention off them. I've been there when we were counted out. And I've got a ring to show for it."

If the Rockies keep stealing home and overcoming 5-0 deficits, they might grab the attention right back. And if they take advantage of this weekend's Giants-Padres series -- every day, one of the teams in front of them will lose every day -- the NL West could become the hottest three-team race in baseball.

"It's kind of crazy over there," Hawpe said.

The Rockies dumped Hawpe late last month, and now he could end up playing in the American League playoffs with the Rays, who signed him and have been giving him something of a tryout for a spot on the postseason roster. Meanwhile, he'll watch from afar as the Rockies try to do what they did in 2007 and 2009, moving from nearly out of the race at the start of September to a spot in the playoffs at the end of the month.

Three years ago, the Rockies went 21-8 in the final month, famously winning 21 out of 22 (including playoffs) in their run to the World Series. Last year, they were 20-11 after Aug. 31.

This year? They're off to a 7-2 start in September. They were seven games out of the division lead and 4 1/2 out of the wild-card lead when the month began; now they're 3 1/2 back in both races.

It's a typical Rockies September, just as it has so far been a typical Phillies September (7-2) and a typical Twins September (7-1).

On to 3 to watch, on a weekend with so many good matchups that we had to leave out the Armando Galarraga-Jim Joyce reunion (Friday night in Detroit), and the Cardinals-Braves series in Atlanta:

1. Hawpe also said he's pulling hard for Carlos Gonzalez to be the National League's Most Valuable Player, and for Ubaldo Jimenez to win the Cy Young Award. Jimenez will need a strong finish to win, but he'll get a chance at becoming the NL's first 19-game winner when he starts in Diamondbacks at Rockies, Saturday night (8:10 ET) at Coors Field . In four meetings with Arizona this year, Jimenez is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA. In 11 games against the Diamondbacks (who originally signed him), Gonzalez is hitting .444 with five home runs, 14 RBI and a 1.500 OPS.

2. When the Yankees and Rangers met last month, it felt like an American League Championship Series preview. They meet again this weekend, but it feels like just another step for two teams anxious to answer their October question marks. The Yankees will be excited or frustrated after A.J. Burnett's start on Saturday, and the Rangers will be relieved or alarmed after they watch Cliff Lee's expected return to the rotation, in Yankees at Rangers, Sunday afternoon (3:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark . For all the worry about the Yankees rotation behind CC Sabathia, the Rangers don't have much chance if Lee isn't healthy, do they?

3. When Mat Latos had to miss his scheduled start for the Padres last Monday night, because of a stomach flu, it was seen as one more thing going wrong for a team in a tailspin. Instead, the Padres used their bullpen to beat the Dodgers that night (ending a 10-game losing streak), and Latos was able to come back and beat the Dodgers again on Tuesday. It also set up the Padres ace to face Giants ace Tim Lincecum in Giants at Padres, Sunday afternoon (4:05 ET) at Petco Park , in the final game of this weekend's four-game series (but not the final meeting between two teams that will play a three-game series in San Francisco on Oct. 1-3). Latos, who was signed by Giants manager Bruce Bochy's brother (a Padres scout), has allowed just three runs in 28 innings in four starts against the Giants this year (including two 1-0 wins). Lincecum has faced the Padres just once this season, and it didn't go well, as he was knocked out in the fourth inning of an 8-2 loss on Aug. 15. He has only four wins in 12 career starts against the Padres (his fewest against an NL West opponent), although his career ERA against San Diego is 2.16.
Posted on: August 29, 2010 9:37 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 12:08 pm

3 to watch: The Manny magic II? edition

Whether you like Manny Ramirez or not, you've got to admit that he carried the Dodgers into the postseason two years ago (and nearly carried them into the World Series, too).

Any chance he does the same for the White Sox, who he joins this week (possibly tonight in Cleveland)?

Your first instinct is to say no way. Manny was 36 years old then; he's 38 now. He had two months with the Dodgers; he'll have one month in Chicago. The Dodgers were just two games out of first place when he joined them; the White Sox are 4 1/2 games back now. The Dodgers had nine games remaining with the Diamondbacks, the team they were chasing (and went 7-2 in those nine games); the White Sox have only three games remaining with the first-place Twins.

Then again . . .

In Manny's first 32 games with the Dodgers, he hit .407 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs. And after dropping three games behind Arizona when they lost Manny's debut, needed just 39 games to turn that three-game deficit into a 4 1/2-game lead.

They needed help from the Diamondbacks, who went 15-23 over that span.

The White Sox would need help from the Twins (or at least from the teams that are playing the Twins).

Can history repeat? It sure seems unlikely, but it sure will be intriguing to see if it can.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Before Manny plays a home game for the White Sox, he'll visit his first two big-league homes, with series against the Indians and Red Sox. Not surprisingly, he has good career numbers at both Progressive Field and Fenway Park. He has incredible career numbers against the Indians (.352, 16 home runs, 46 RBIs in 51 games). Ramirez could be in the lineup as soon as White Sox at Indians, Monday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field , but in any case he should join the Sox during this series.

2. After A.J. Burnett completed a winless August by allowing nine runs to the Manny-less White Sox last Friday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi waited two days to announce whether Burnett would remain in the rotation. He will, Girardi told reporters Sunday, but the A.J. watch will be on in full force if he doesn't pitch well in A's at Yankees, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium . If there's one thing that is most worrisome for the Yankees heading into September and October, it's the rotation. Andy Pettitte remains on the disabled list, and in five August starts, Burnett had a 7.80 ERA.

3. Speaking of key pitchers who were winless in August, Tim Lincecum's next assignment is a big one, facing Ubaldo Jimenez in Rockies at Giants, Wednesday night (9:15 ET) at AT&T Park . The Giants lead the Rockies by three games entering this week's series, but both teams trail the Padres in the National League West and the Phillies in the NL wild-card race. Lincecum's August ERA, by the way, was nearly the same as Burnett's (7.82). Jimenez went 1-3 in August, losing his last three decisions, but his ERA for the month was 2.83.

Posted on: June 13, 2010 7:33 pm

3 to watch: The Rematch (or preview) edition

Given that most American League teams play only five National League teams in any given year, there should only be about a 31 percent chance of a "World Series rematch" in any given regular season. And yet, this is the fifth time in six seasons that the two World Series teams have played an interleague series the following year.

I'd like to say there's some great meaning in that. The fact is that it means basically nothing.

But with the Phillies due back at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, for the first time since Game 6 last November, this is one of the few times it has felt like not only are we seeing the two best teams from last year, but we also may be seeing the two best teams the two leagues have to offer this year.

Granted, the Phillies have played so poorly of late that they've managed to fall behind the Braves and the Mets in the NL East. Granted, the Yankees have spent most of the season behind the Rays in the AL East, finally catching them on Sunday.

There's obviously no guarantee that these two teams see each other in October, but it's still easy to think that we could have the first true World Series rematch (in October, that is) since 1977-78.

And if we're not seeing a World Series preview this week in the Bronx, maybe we're seeing one in Atlanta, or in Minnesota.

We'll touch on all three, in this week's 3 to watch:

1. The Yankees (and 12 other teams) were happy to see Roy Halladay depart the American League last December. They won't be nearly as happy if they see him in Game 1 of the World Series this October. There's a long way before then, but a Halladay vs. CC Sabathia matchup will give Phillies at Yankees, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Yankee Stadium even more of an October feel. Halladay is 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 37 career games against the Yankees.

2. The Phillies are behind the Braves. The Yankees have spent most of the season behind the Rays. So naturally, while the Phillies play the Yankees this week, the Braves will play the Rays. And if you don't believe Halladay vs. Sabathia is a look-ahead to what we'll see in Game 1 this fall, how about James Shields vs. Tim Hudson, in Rays at Braves, Thursday night (7:10 EDT) at Turner Field ?

3. Don't like Halladay vs. Sabathia or Shields vs. Hudson as a possible Game 1 World Series matchup? OK, then how about Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Francisco Liriano, who will meet up in Rockies at Twins, Thursday afternoon (1:10 EDT) at Target Field . The Rockies are four games out of first place in the NL West, which sounds pretty good when you remember that a year ago at this time, they were 10 1/2 games out.
Posted on: May 30, 2010 5:48 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2010 8:57 am

3 to watch: The Are you serious? edition

After 52 games a year ago, the Blue Jays were 29-23, and just 1 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East. Their early schedule had been favorable, the upcoming schedule looked tougher, and by year's end the Jays had a 75-87 record that helped get general manager J.P. Ricciardi fired and helped get Roy Halladay traded to Philadelphia.

So if you want to get excited about the Jays' current 30-22 record, go right ahead. We'll look at a favorable early schedule, and an upcoming schedule that looks much tougher, and we'll say that until proven otherwise, the Jays of 2010 aren't noticeably better than the Jays of 2009.

The Jays are 2-7 against the Big 3 in the American League East, and that's bad news in two ways. One, it says they're probably not nearly as good as their overall record. Two, it means that 45 of their remaining 110 games (41 percent) are against the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox.

In fact, of Toronto's remaining 37 games before the All-Star break, only four will be against a team currently under .500. They start that stretch this week, with three against the Rays, then their first three of the season with the Yankees.

And that's why the Blue Jays have a spot in this week's 3 to watch:

1. The Braves were basically in first place for 15 straight years, from 1991-2005 (yes, we know they were in second when the strike hit in 1994). The Braves basically haven't been in first place since 2005 (yes, we know that they were in first as late as May 15 in 2007). The Braves were in last place, 6 1/2 games out of first, just two weeks ago. Now they could take over first, in a series that includes Phillies at Braves, Tuesday night (7:10 EDT) at Turner Field . The Braves (15-4 since May 10) could actually take over first place on Monday, but Tuesday's pitching matchup is Tim Hudson (4-0, 1.59 this month) against Cole Hamels (3-1, 2.45 this month).

2. The Blue Jays have scored more runs than any American League team but the Yankees. That didn't help them the first time they faced David Price; he threw a four-hitter for his first career shutout. The Jays get another chance at Price, in Rays at Blue Jays, Wednesday night (7:07 EDT) at Rogers Centre . Price's opponent: Shaun Marcum, who hasn't faced the Rays since 2008 but is 2-0 against them in his career, with an 0.75 ERA.

3. Could the Braves pass the Phillies? Could the Blue Jays threaten the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox? Here's one more: Are the Reds a serious threat to the Cardinals in the National League Central. Cincinnati leads the division by one game heading into this week's series, which concludes with Reds at Cardinals, Wednesday night (8:15 EDT) at Busch Stadium . The Cardinals have three rookies in their rotation, but Chris Carpenter is their Wednesday starter. The Reds have two rookies in their rotation, and one of them is Wednesday starter Sam LeCure, who took Homer Bailey's spot when Bailey went on the disabled list.

And one more to watch: No, we didn't overlook Monday's Rockies-Giants game, which features a matchup of the guy who won the last two National League Cy Young Awards (Tim Lincecum) and the guy who has made himself a front-runner for the 2010 Cy Young (Ubaldo Jimenez). We left it out, only because first pitch is 4:05 EDT on Memorial Day Monday, and we worried that by the time you read this, you may already have missed it.

Posted on: April 18, 2010 9:20 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2010 3:28 pm

3 to watch: The 'I (almost) told you so' edition

If you checked in with 3 to watch on Friday, you knew to tune in for one of the games of the weekend, the marathon Mets' 20-inning win over the Cardinals on Saturday.

Not only that, but we told you about a young pitcher who people say "is going to throw a no-hitter some day." So what that we picked the wrong young pitcher (Brett Anderson instead of Ubaldo Jimenez)?

We won't forget Jimenez this week, in the newest edition of 3 to watch. Our only regret is that we can't make it 4 to watch, and thus include the expected debut of Mets first-base prospect Ike Davis, which reportedly will come sometime during the series against the Cubs.

1. The Phillies survived the first week of the season with Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero and Joe Blanton on the disabled list. They won three of the first four games that Jimmy Rollins missed with a calf injury that landed him on the DL, too. But now comes the news that J.A. Happ is bothered by stiffness in his left forearm, as first reported by Jim Salisbury of Comcast Philadelphia. So there's a lot of focus on Happ's next scheduled start, in Phillies at Braves, Wednesday (7:10 EDT) at Turner Field . Pitching depth is an issue for the Phils, so much so that Nelson Figueroa (cut in spring training by the Mets) is reportedly a top candidate to take Happ's place, if needed. This is a big series, regardless -- the first series of the year between the Phils and the Braves, the team that represents the biggest threat to Philadelphia's National League East dominance. MONDAY UPDATE: The Phillies announced that they will skip Happ's start, but that because of the off day they'll simply have Roy Halladay pitch Wednesday, with Jamie Moyer going Thursday. They now need a starting pitcher for Saturday's game in Arizona.

2. After the 1926 Yankees won their first five series of the season, they went to Philadelphia and were swept by the A's. Now the 2010 Yankees have won their first four series of the year (the first Yankee team since 1926 to do so), and guess who they get next? If history repeats, tune in for Yankees at A's, Thursday (3:35 EDT) at the Coliseum , to see the A's go for the sweep. The matchup Thursday is CC Sabathia (2-0) against Dallas Braden (2-0), but the real matchup this week is the Yankee lineup (69 runs in the first 12 games) against the A's pitching staff, which leads the league in both overall ERA (2.90) and rotation ERA (2.70).

3. OK, so we didn't tell you to watch Jimenez last Saturday against the Braves. And OK, it's an easy call to tell you to watch Jimenez's next start. We're telling you anyway: Rockies at Nationals, Thursday (4:35 EDT) at Nationals Park . We'll also tell you that in Jimenez's only other career start at Nationals Park, he allowed seven hits in eight innings of a 4-3 win.

Posted on: April 17, 2010 10:10 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2010 11:56 pm

That's how good he is

Last summer, Jim Tracy sat in a dugout in New York and said he wanted Ubaldo Jimenez to understand how good he can be.

This should help.

Tracy, the Rockies manager, said he wanted Jimenez to take the mound with the idea that he was going to go the distance.

"I tell him that when I give him the ball, I don't want him to give it back," Tracy said.

Tonight, Jimenez showed how good he can be. Tonight, when Tracy gave Jimenez the ball, Jimenez never did give it back.

The 26-year-old right-hander threw the first no-hitter in Rockies history. He walked six, and he needed 128 pitches, but in a 1-2-3 ninth inning, he was still throwing 98 mph.

Jimenez completed only two of his first 85 major league starts, in part because he had a tendency to throw too many pitches to last deep into a game. He threw 100 pitches in 4 1/3 innings last April in Los Angeles, and 92 pitches in just 2 2/3 innings last September in San Francisco.

But Jimenez is learning, and he's learning to be a winner. He won 15 games for the Rockies last year, and he joins Roy Halladay, Derek Lowe and Tim Lincecum as the only pitchers so far to win three straight starts to begin 2010.

Halladay has a Cy Young Award. Lincecum has won the National League Cy Young each of the last two years. Lowe doesn't own a Cy Young, but he has 144 career wins and a contract that pays him $15 million a season.

Halladay hasn't yet thrown a no-hitter. Neither has Lincecum. Lowe has one, eight years ago with the Red Sox.

And now Jimenez has one, too.

If he didn't know how good he can be before tonight, he sure should know it now.

Category: MLB
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