Monday, April 5, 2010

Rockies Win Opener Behind Jimenez

Ubaldo Jimenez lived up to the hype on Monday in Milwaukee.

The Rockies defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 to spoil Opening Day for the 45,808 Brewer faithful at Miller Park, the second largest crowd in the history of the stadium.

With all the fanfare involved with Opening Day, Jimenez stole the show. The righty worked six strong innings, pumping a steady fastball past the Brewers hitters. He never hit below 96 on the radar guns and was consistently around 98 MPH. Jimenez's line for the day read six innings pitched, eight hits, one run, and six strikeouts. He walked only one hitter.

While the 2010 Colorado Rockies team has more talent than any other team the franchise has put on the field, the question will continue to be asked until the Rockies put it to rest. Can this team play well in April?

If Jimenez pitches like he did on Monday, those questions will stop very quickly. The 26 year-old Dominican was everything that everyone thought that he could be, and much more.

Jimenez has been great the past three years for the Rockies, but what has kept him from being an elite pitcher is his typical one inning of struggle. It seemed that every game Jimenez had one inning that he struggled to hit his spots and would give up a couple of runs. He put that to rest on Monday.

Anytime Jimenez gave up a base hit, he quickly calmed down and found his composure. With two outs and two runners on in the second inning he blew three fastballs past Jim Edmonds to get out of the inning. In the third inning, once again with two on and two out, Jimenez faced Edmonds again. After getting two strikes on the veteran, Jimenez shook off several pitches before getting Edmonds to wave at a curveball in the dirt.

Edmonds knew Jimenez had blown fastballs by him, so he was undoubtedly guessing that he would see another one. Instead, Jimenez showed his maturity and brought the breaking ball, fooling Edmonds.

With a 99 MPH fastball, and sharp breaking pitches, Jimenez will be the oppositions worst nightmare if he has indeed turned the corner, becoming a veteran thinker on the mound.

Ian Stewart celebrated his birthday with a long home run to center field to get the scoring started. He added a sacrifice fly an inning later to give the Rockies a 2-0 lead.

Carlos Gonzalez started right where he left off, notching a four hit day. He looks incredibly comfortable at the plate.

Franklin Morales did nothing to ease the concern of his naysayers. With a three run lead in the ninth, the lefty closer had runners on second and third with no one out. He gave up one run before getting Prince Fielder to line out to Troy Tulowitzki, who made an amazing catch to save a run. He then got Edmonds to fly out to end the game and give the Rockies their first victory of the 2010 season.

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