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Ubaldo Jimenez Throws Colorado’s First No-Hitter

It took the Colorado Rockies franchise 18 years to experience one of the most exciting moments in professional baseball — 9 innings of no-hit baseball.  With a fastball that topped out in the high 90′s the entire game, Ubaldo Jimenez became the first Rockies pitcher ever to record a no-hitter when he defeated the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.  Despite six walks through the first five innings, Jimenez was able to go the distance and keep his pitch count to a modest 128, retiring the last 15 Braves hitters he faced.  The secret?  Pitching exclusively from the stretch from the fifth inning on:

In the fifth inning [pitching coach] 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?’”

The advice was well-taken, as Jimenez settled in and steamrolled through the final five innings and cemented his place in the MLB record book.  Like almost every no-hitter or perfect game, Jimenez got a little help from his defense.  While probably not as impressive as DeWayne Wise’s wall-leaping snag to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game for the White Sox last season, Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler covered some serious ground to keep his hurler’s no-hitter in tact in the seventh inning.  Check out the video of Fowler’s catch, courtesy of Every Joe via YouTube:

Sources:
Jimenez dominates Braves for first no-hitter in Rockies’ history [AP recap]
Video: Dexter Fowler Catch Saves No-Hitter [Knuckle Curve]

Jon Lester and Fluke No-Hitters

I feel as if I’m not allowed to say anything negative about the guy because he overcame cancer. I mean no ill-will towards Jon Lester, and I certainly respect him for having dealt with such a severe issue and making it to the major leagues where he’s even won a Game 7 in the World Series. But I’ll judge him like any other pitcher, because that’s exactly what he is. And while throwing a no-hitter in the Majors is no small feat, I still don’t think too highly of Lester’s longterm prospects, though he clearly has the propensity to dominate in single games. So with that in mind, I would like to present some of the biggest fluke no-hitters in the history of the game. After all, in 10 years, I expect Lester’s name to be on the list. Joe Sports Fan essentially did the same thing a month ago so I’m taking a lot of their work here.

    Jose Jimenez – a career record of 24-44, he spent most of his short career as a reliever for the Rockies. Still, he was good enough to turn the trick for the Cardinals against the D-Backs in ’99.
    Bud Smith – One of the shortest shelf lives ever, Bud threw a no-no against the Padres for the Cardinals, and only managed to last one more year in the bigs. At least the Card parlayed him into Scott Rolen at the trade deadline.
    Astros, Party of six – It’s just strange to see such a good hitting team like the Yankees get no-hit by not just one pitcher, but a combination of six different arms including the likes of Peter Munro and Kirk Saarloos.
    Hideo Nomo (at Coors) – In the middle of Coors’ heyday and the Blake Street Bombers, Nomo did the unthinkable throwing a no-hitter for the Dodgers in Denver. Probably won’t ever be done again. He proved it wasn’t a fluke by throwing another one later in his career.
    Anibal Sanchez – He threw one for the Marlins while I was having a fantasy football draft in September two years ago. While he certainly had good stuff, injuries have kept him down, and you probably won’t remember this name in five years.
    Jon Lester – Dominated a Royals team in ’08, allowing just two base runners. In 10 years, he’ll be just a note in Red Sox history. Or at least that’s my guess.

There are plenty more on the list, so feel free to add one if you can think of it. And as rare as the accomplishment is in history, there’s definitely proof that you don’t have to be an exceptional pitcher to make it happen. You just have to be exceptional on one given day.

Ned Yost Should Take Blame for No-No

I’m not one to take a leak on another man’s greatest accomplishment, but that’s exactly what I’ll be doing here. Justin Verlander’s good, actually really good. But he did not have to be no-hitter good on Tuesday night. The probability that he would have held the Brewers to no hits could’ve been lowered. And dare I say avoided. See, when I look at the boxscore for the game, something stands out to me almost as much as the actual no-hitter — the Brewers lineup. Take a look at it:

Sorry to say it, but Milwaukee can field a better lineup than that. Come on, Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino hitting one and two? Phil Garner’s 7th and 8th spot of Adam Everett and Brad Ausmus are laughing at that top of the lineup. Plus, Yost gave third baseman Ryan Braun the day off. Braun has been arguably Milwaukee’s best hitter since his callup a few weeks ago, making Tuesday night’s day off ill-timed. Additionally, Yost used Gabe Gross for the DH spot, leaving the great Kevin Mench on the bench, another poor choice if you ask me.

Hey, it may seem like I’m nit-picking here, but I really feel like this whole situation could’ve been avoided if Yost did a better job of choosing his lineup. Then again, if every important baseball decision were left up to me, then these poor men would be out of jobs. So I guess it’s kind of like my community service or something. In the end, I’ll say it was an impressive no-no for Verlander that could have been avoided.

Oh, what do you know? It’s Doug Melvin on the phone for a conversation. Sorry guys, don’t expect the morning paper and usual posts until later today, I have an interview to prepare for.