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Jim Tracy says Ubaldo Jimenez hitting Troy Tulowitzki was most gutless act he’s seen in baseball

Bad blood rarely boils over during spring training games, but it happens. If not for Ubaldo Jimenez, we may have made it through an entire spring training without a bench-clearing incident. Jimenez, who now pitches for the Indians, drilled former teammate Troy Tulowitzki in the elbow on Sunday. The Indians insist the ball got away from him, but Jimenez reportedly threw his glove to the ground and started walking toward Tulowitzki once he drilled him. Couple that with the fact that there is a history between the two and that would make for quite the coincidence.

To say Rockies manager Jim Tracy is upset over the incident would be a massive understatement.

“It’s the most gutless act I have seen in 35 years of professional baseball,” Tracy said angrily according to the Denver Post. “I have lost all respect for him. To do something like that and walk down off the mound, and if there’s any suggestion whatsoever that the ball got away, I don’t want to hear any of that (expletive). He intentionally threw at him. He should be suspended. I am going to be very disappointed if he doesn’t get suspended. He deserves to be.

“Are you kidding me? Five days before opening day and you are going to take a potshot like that? It was the worst I have seen. I have lost respect for him and that’s a very difficult thing for me to say.”

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Troy Tulowitzki: Ubaldo Jimenez Did Not Properly Prepare Himself for the Season

Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the best stories of the baseball season last year. The former Rockies pitcher went 15-1 in 18 starts before the All-Star break and was nearly unbeatable. He had a sub-1.00 ERA in June and had thrown a no-hitter. He rode a fastball in the upper-90s with crazy movement and a wicked breaking ball to unprecedented Coors Field success for a pitcher. Ubaldo finished the year 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA. He had established himself as an ace in the National League and he was expected to anchor the Rockies’ staff for the future. But it all changed this season.

Ubaldo entered the year reportedly dissatisfied with his contract situation. He had seen the franchise give Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez major contract extensions while he remained signed to a team-friendly deal. He got rocked on Opening Day and ended up on the disabled list with a finger injury. Turns out he was battling other nagging injuries since spring training, and it looks like a lack of proper preparation prior to the season is to blame.

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NL Mid-Season Baseball Awards

With baseball at the All-Star break, we assembled the staff here at LBS to select our mid-season baseball awards. Yesterday, we posted the AL awards. Today, it’s the NL awards.

NL MVP

Steve DelVecchio says Joey Votto, 1B, Reds: The Reds, yes the Reds, are in first place and much of it is because of the bat and glove of Votto. He’s hitting .314 with 22 HR and 60 RBI and has made only two errors, yet somehow it took the fans voting him in on the final vote to earn a spot on the NL All-Star team. I’m giving it to him for now because he has the Reds in first, but I’m sure he’ll come back to earth at some point. My honorable mentions are Albert Pujols and David Wright. Isn’t it just a tradition to give it to Pujols? He’s got the stats for it at .307 with 21 HR and 64 RBI. As for Wright, he’s been raking even though the Mets could be the streakiest team in the history of baseball. He has a .314 average with 14 HR and 65 RBI. To top that off, he’s mixed in 15 steals which is just outside the top 10 in the NL.

Alan Hull says Joey Votto: The batting average, home runs and RBI are impressive and he plays on a winning team. Pujols or David Wright are keeping pace and can’t be counted out in the second half.

Jake Walker says Joey Votto: Never has a snub for the All-Star Game proven to be more powerful. When he got left off the roster and relegated to the fan vote, it made everyone wake up to realize how much he was dominating the NL this year.

Larry Brown says Joey Votto: Much like Miguel Cabrera in the AL, Votto has some of the best numbers in the NL across the board. He finished the first half strong by homering in seven of his team’s last 15 games to give him 22 on the year. I’m guessing Albert Pujols catches him and wins it, but Votto’s putting up one heck of a fight.

NL CY YOUNG AWARD

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Ubaldo Jimenez Continues to Dominate

We covered the no-hitter Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez threw against the Braves a month ago and the guy hasn’t stopped dominating since. Jimenez handled the Astros’ weak lineup with ease, giving up just one hit over seven innings while walking two and striking out four. Although Ubaldo’s stud performance comes with the caveat that it was achieved against the Astros, Jimenez has dominated all opponents equally. Despite facing teams with an OPS of 742, Ubaldo leads MLB with an 8-1 record and 0.99 ERA — not too bad numbers for having completed around 30% of the season. As if the 0.99 ERA doesn’t already tell you how good Ubaldo has been, this might make you understand: Jimenez has allowed only four runs in the six starts since his no-hitter.

The crazy part about Jimenez’s dominant performance against Houston is that he didn’t even have his best stuff “At the beginning of the game I didn’t feel good because I was throwing everything high, but as the game went on, I started getting better. In the fifth and sixth inning I started pounding the strike zone and throwing my breaking ball for strikes.” Watching the game it was easy to notice Ubaldo’s elevated velocity. What I didn’t realize was that when he was throwing 98mph regularly, that was his sinker, not his fastball. Combining that ridiculous speed with his stuff, it’s easy to see why he’s been so successful. As long as his arm holds up over the course of the season, he should continue to have plenty of success and contend for the Cy Young Award.

Sources:
Rockies shut out Astros 4-0 [AP Recap/Yahoo! Sports]
Photo Credit: Scott Boehm/Getty Images

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]