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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
Our Instinct: Jimenez is just plain silly. He’s now 10-1 with a 0.78 era (not a typo), with 70 k’s and 26 walks in 80.1 innings. His only loss of the season came while giving up 1 run in 7 innings. He has 11 starts on the season and a decision in everyone. Yes, He is an animal and No, you have no shot at trading for him right now.
Precision Instinct: Jimenez is on a pace to win 32 games. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. However, it looks like he will cruise to 20 wins, which would make him the first in Colorado Rockies history. No one in baseball won 20 games last season, and in the past 12 seasons there’s only been 15 pitchers to win 20 games. SP John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves was the last player to win 24 games, he did it in 1996 (24-8). SP Bob Welch of the Oakland Athletics was the last pitcher to win 25 game in a season. He did it in 1990 by going 27-6. The last 30 game winner was Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers in 1968 when he went 31-6. That was 42 years ago and there’s been only 2 in the past 76 years.
Could Jimenez win 25 games? Seems like a stretch, but the 1st of June isn’t until tomorrow and has 10 already. So far he’s won 5 game in both April and May. If he wins 4 games a month the rest of the way, he will have 26. As June starts to progress, you’ll begin to see the hype and speculation on where he will finish. While no one can say for sure how many games the 26 year old will have, it can be said that he’s now our favorite to win the 2010 NL CY Young award.