- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Ubaldo Jimenez called into "Baseball Tonight" during a commercial break Saturday, and as he chatted with the folks on the show before his interview started, he sounded the way that you'd imagine someone who'd just thrown a no-hitter would sound. He laughed as he recalled his reaction to Dexter Fowler's incredible catch, and he talked about how much fun it was to see his teammates' response.
On this night, the story of Jimenez's career became the story of his no-hitter. He's always had great stuff -- his fastball averaged a league-high 95.5 mph last year -- and the question has always been whether he could fully harness that power. On Saturday night, he threw a fastball in the second inning that hit 100 mph, but he struggled mightily for his command, walking five in the first four innings.
But as he related over the phone, pitching coach Bob Apodaca approached him after the fifth inning and suggested that Jimenez work from the stretch, even when no runners were on base, rather than the windup. The idea made sense, because Jimenez had been struggling to command his fastball when working from the windup.
Jimenez took the advice and used it, which is his nature, and that is why he went from having a rapidly mounting pitch count to a more controlled 114 pitches after eight innings, and this made the decision of Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy to leave him in for the ninth inning so much easier. A lot of pitchers lose velocity when they work from the stretch, but on Jimenez's 126th pitch of the night, he threw a 98 mph fastball. On the 128th pitch of the night, he threw 97 mph, and Brian McCann grounded weakly to second base. Jimenez had the first no-hitter in Rockies history.
Some numbers on Jimenez's no-hitter, from John Fisher, John Parolin and Doug Kern of ESPN Stats & Information:
In throwing the first no-hitter in Rockies team history Saturday, Ubaldo Jimenez demonstrated how he's grown as a player. Plus, a few notes on Cal Ripken's job prospects with the Orioles and a recap of the 20-inning Mets-Cardinals marathon.