Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jimenez states his case, helps Rockies sweep Cardinals

All week long there have been whispers that Ubaldo Jimenez, after a three game slump, would not start the All-Star game in Anaheim next Tuesday.

With all due respect to the Marlins Josh Johnson, not starting Ubaldo Jimenez would be the worst decision that Charlie Manuel can make, and judging by his selections for the All-Star reserves, Manuel is very adept at making poor decisions.

With all the talk about Jimenez not starting, Jimenez chose to make his argument on the mound.

On Thursday afternoon at Coors Field, Jimenez led the Rockies to a three-game sweep over the Cardinals with an eight inning, one run performance. He gave up just three hits, one on a hard shot to short that easily could have gone as a error, but was ruled a double.

The outing by Jimenez relieved many fears of those following the Rockies. After a start that had people comparing him to Bob Gibson and Denny McLain, Jimenez faltered in three straight starts. In those starts he gave up 17 earned runs in 17-1/3 innings. He had given up just 10 earned runs throughout the whole season prior to that. With his outing on Thursday, the right hander relieved fears that he might be tired, or even possibly hurt.

Starting Josh Johnson would be more fuel for the fire in regards to the east coast media bias. While Johnson has been better than Jimenez in the last month, Jimenez was by far the most dominant pitcher in the National League throughout the first part of the season.

It is amazing how quickly "experts" forget that Jimenez was named the National League Pitcher of the Month in both April and May. His no-hitter was the earliest no-hitter in 50 years. April is well known for being a hitter's month because pitcher's arm strength is not 100 percent yet.

If people think that Johnson should start over Jimenez they should probably ask the opposing players who have tried to hit the Dominican. After Ryan Braun faced the righty on opening day, he said that he was glad they faced him early because they Brewers lineup would not face anyone with better stuff than Jimenez all year long.

When Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox reached first base against Jimenez, the television cameras caught Pedroia complimenting Jimenez to Todd Helton, saying that his stuff is "wicked."

After the Arizona Diamondbacks faced Johnson in early June, the media was asking then manager A.J. Hench if he thought that Johnson was the best in the National League. Hench was quick to compliment Johnson, but said that if the media wanted to see the best pitcher in baseball they should start watching the team that plays at Coors Field.

While wins are not always the best way to judge a pitcher, the fact that Jimenez is the first pitcher since 2000 to go into the All-Star break with 15 wins. Wins may not be the best judge of a pitchers dominance, but when someone has racked up as many wins as Jimenez has, it would be difficult to say that he isn't the best in the game so far.

As far as the game goes, Jason Giambi continued his hot streak. He notched his first four hit game since he was playing in pinstripes in New York in 2003. He was not intimidated by Chris Carpenter and drove in two runs, one immediately after the Cardinals had scored a run off of Jimenez to get within two runs.

Dexter Fowler also continued showing the sending him to Colorado Springs for a refresher course was a good decision. A night after clubbing a three-run home run that tied the game, Fowler went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

The Rockies head into a huge weekend series with the division leading San Diego Padres. At worst they start the series just three games behind the Padres, giving them a chance to head into the All-Star break with a tie for the lead in the National League West.

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