By John Ritter
Ubaldo Jimenez finally pulled together that world class talent.
With a final fastball hitting 97 mph, Jimenez threw the Colorado Rockies’ first no-hitter in franchise history, with the aid of an acrobatic snag in the outfield by Dexter Fowler in the seventh inning. Jimenez walked six, but settled in after the fifth inning, striking out seven in a 4-0 win over the Atlanta Braves Saturday night. The win itself was a surprise in MLB Sportsbooks, let alone its fashion.
“It’s every pitcher’s dream to be out there for nine innings and throw a no-hitter,” Jimenez said.
Brian McCann grounded out to second base for the final out of the game, and Jimenez was embraced by Todd Helton before the rest of the team caught up.
Only the Tampa Bay Rays, San Diego Padres and New York Mets remain without a no-no.
His control to that point was erratic, walking six, early in the game, though, and it was unclear if he would even make it to the ninth inning.
“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?”
As the walks increased, Jimenez said he changed his delivery at the advice of his pitching coach.
“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.
The righty made the change, and didn’t issue a free pass for the remainder of the game. He sat down the next 15 hitters in order, escaping a frightful flyball by Troy Glaus in the seventh. His rocket shot to left field seemed destined to fall in safely before Fowler came racing in from center field and made a leaping grab for the out.
Jimenez was seen on camera saying, “wow”, after the catch.
“The way he dove, I was like ‘unbelievable’.”
“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,” said Fowler.
Jimenez then survived another scare, but cutting through Atlanta’s 2-3-4 hitters in the ninth.
“Oh my God, 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?”
But each hitter went down in order, just as they had early in the game, sealing it as Jimenez continued to near 100 mph in the final frame.
“That was domination,” Chipper Jones said. “Only one ball came close to falling.”
“I’d never been no-hit,” said McCann. “I’d never even seen a no-hitter, except on TV. … It was probably the best performance I’ve ever seen. He’s impressive.”