For the first time since Sept. 17, the Rockies won a game started by their ace, Ubaldo Jimenez. He had made nine consecutive starts in games the Rockies lost, including six this season, which he began 0-3 with a 6.67 ERA.
Jimenez is still winless in 2011 and still carrying an unsightly 6.14 ERA. But he pitched seven innings for the first time this year, and after the Rockies rallied for four runs in the eighth to beat the Giants 5-3, manager Jim Tracy was extremely pleased.
"The performance Ubaldo gave us was a winning performance," Tracy said. "He didn't get the decision, but he pitched well enough to win."
Jimenez allowed three runs and eight hits and matched his season bests with one walk and seven strikeouts.
He gave up a run in the second when Aubrey Huff doubled and Miguel Tejada followed with a single and two in the third on three straight two-out hits, the last a two-run double by Pat Burrell on a 3-0 fastball that was right over the heart of the plate, a pitch Burrell drove into the gap in left-center.
Jimenez then gave up his lone walk, after which he retired 13 of the final 16 batters he faced. He got nine outs on groundballs and just three on flyballs to the outfield, which were encouraging signs. He threw 116 pitches, including 72 strikes.
Jimenez retired the Giants in order on six pitches, five strikes, in the first, and all were fastballs. Indeed, catcher Chris Iannetta said he noticed when Jimenez was warming up before the game, "he looked more like himself than he had in the last few starts." Iannetta said Jimenez's posture, balance and delivery "looked night and day from where he was a few weeks ago" while warming up in the bullpen. With that in mind, Iannetta made the decision in the first inning to call for more fastballs.
"I wanted him to get back to pitching with his fastball," Iannetta said. "He has a good done. Let's dominate with the fastball. Let's get ahead with the fastball and let that complement his offspeed pitches, instead of teams just sitting on his offspeed (pitches) or waiting for him to throw a pitch over the middle because he's behind."
Jimenez is still looking for his first win since Sept. 17. But after this outing against the Giants, he was, at long last, upbeat and able to feel he had contributed to the team rather than drag it down.
"It's been really hard for me," Jimenez said. "Every time I go out there, I try to give 100 percent to give the team a chance to win, but I haven't been able to do that. I did it today, so I feel really good, especially (coming) against the Giants."
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