The San Diego Padres found that out for the second time in 2010, losing to Jimenez and the Rockies 5-2 on Monday night.
Jimenez, as Rockies fans are getting accustomed to hearing, was nearly untouchable. The game was a testament to how good Jimenez is, he struck out a career-high 13 batters, including Adrian Gonzalez three times. The righty gave up four hits and one run through seven innings. He walked only two batters. After another stellar night, Jimenez's ERA went up to 0.87.
The fact is, Jimenez did not have his best stuff. He struggled to locate his offspeed pitches and left some fastballs up in the zone.
Yorvit Torrealba, who might know Jimenez's stuff better than anyone in the league, ended the Dominican's scoreless inning streak at 25-1/3 in the fourth with a double down the left field line. The double hardly phased Jimenez, who stopped the minuscule bleeding, shuting out the Padres for the final 3-2/3 innings.
In a flashback to his no-hitter, Jimenez stepped to the plate with one out and runners at second and third base in the top of the seventh inning. With Jimenez at 107 pitches through six innings, the Padres had to have been anticipating a pinch hitter. However, Jimenez stepped to the plate and promptly delivered a hard single to right field, scoring Miguel Olivo and running the score to 3-1, giving himself a little more breathing room.
At 6-0, Jimenez should begin to start getting the national attention that he so richly deserves. His outings have been incredible. In the first inning the radar gun showed Jimenez at 101 MPH. He consistently was hitting 98 and 99 MPH through 120 pitches.
With stuff like the 26 year-old Dominican possesses, it would make sense that he is a strikeout pitcher. However, that is not really the case. He generally pitches to contact, allowing his defense to make plays behind him.
On Monday, however, it became clear quickly that the Padres were looking to drive Jimenez's pitch count up by working the count. Jimenez in years past may not have recognized that, however, as he develops and matures into the dominant pitcher that he is becoming, Jimenez did not mess around and pounded the strike zone. The results? A career high 13 strikeouts.
Enough cannot be said about Jimenez and his domination. Words cannot describe the pitcher that he has become, and is still becoming. His performance, which lacked his best stuff, was nothing short of phenomenal. No matter how many games the Rockies are out of first place, or what the score of the game was the day before, the Rockies are going to play at a higher level with Jimenez on the mound because there is a confidence that they are going to have a chance to win with the flamethrower on the mound.
An ace like Jimenez is one of those pitchers who can singlehandedly carry a team to the playoffs. Jimenez may just do that for the Rockies in 2010.
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