DENVER -- The wonder that baseball poets often attach to Opening Day gave way to an uncomfortable sense of mystery for pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies.
Jimenez's otherworldly fastball velocity never made it to Coors Field on Friday, and neither did any of his secondary pitches. Jimenez was finished long before the D-backs' Gerardo Parra scored on an 11th-inning wild pitch to send the Rockies to a 7-6 defeat in front of 49,374, but his struggles were far from out of mind.
"I usually have all my pitches working, mainly my fastball," Jimenez said. "But I didn't have the speed. I didn't have anything working today."
Jimenez (0-1) won 19 games and struck out 214 last season. On a day when the Rockies did a much better job than much of last year in terms of fundamental hitting and were dazzling on defense -- and when newcomer Jose Lopez dazzled offensively and defensively -- Jimenez's normal performance would have assured a victory.
Instead, he struck out just one, gave up six runs and seven hits in six innings and yielded a three-run homer to Justin Upton and a two-run shot to Miguel Montero.
Even more, Jimenez's fastball -- which usually approaches or exceeds 100 mph -- never exceeded 95 mph, and he had nothing else working.
For all the shortcomings they've shown while playing 54 games below .500 over the last two seasons, the D-backs can crush a fastball -- especially a subpar one from a top pitcher. Watching Jimenez stretch and fidget trying to find something was odd, but pleasing for the D-backs.
"I noticed when he threw me a couple of fastballs, it was kind of weird," said Montero, who doubled in the second inning and has homered on three of his five career hits against Jimenez. "I don't know, honestly. I don't think he was throwing that hard. I wonder if he's all right."
There was no indication of an injury. Not even his pitching coach knew why Jimenez wasn't himself.
"I don't know if there's an answer to that," Bob Apodaca said. "Has he had games like that in the past? Yeah. They're infrequent, but they do happen."
What Jimenez needed was a little Opening Day magic, and he would have had it if not for a hoary occurrence in the fifth. With the Rockies leading, 3-1, with one out, Jimenez retired Parra on one pitch and had a 1-2 count against D-backs starter Ian Kennedy before walking him. Willie Bloomquist hit a hanging breaking ball for a single and Upton homered two batters later.
"That inning was set up to maybe keep him in the game even longer, if you add up the pitches that needed to be thrown," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
"Every time you get a pitcher at the plate and you walk him, that's a big mistake," Jimenez said.
So much else went right.
"I thought we played good baseball today, just didn't win the game," said Todd Helton, who had two hits and has hit safely in his last 12 Opening Day games.
In the first two innings, the Rockies had just two hits, but they pushed three men to third with fewer than two outs and scored all three. Montero's homer off Jimenez, immediately after third baseman Ty Wigginton's error, gave the D-backs a 6-3 lead.
But Lopez homered off Kennedy to left to lead off the sixth, and the Rockies tied it with two unearned runs in the seventh. One scored when Juan Gutierrez struck out Wigginton on a pitch in the dirt and catcher Montero's throw to first base was wild. The other scored when Lopez beat out a grounder to third baseman Melvin Mora, whose rushed throw was wide of first base, anyway.
The Rockies experienced misfortune.
With Carlos Gonzalez at second after a fifth-inning leadoff double, Helton popped a ball toward the foul-ground fence in left. Even though replays indicated Parra had no play when he slid for the ball, umpires ruled interference on a fan who had reached over the fence and ruled Helton out. The Rockies didn't score in the inning.
Seth Smith, who had three hits, was at third with two down in the eighth when reliever Aaron Heilman's pitch to Troy Tulowitzki squirted past Montero, but not far enough. Tulowitzki struck out as part of an 0-for-5 day.
With two down and two on in the ninth, pinch-hitter Jonathan Herrera hit a hard grounder up the middle, but D-backs reliever Daniel Hernandez stopped the ball with his bare hand and retired Herrera at first base.
In the D-backs' 11th, Parra singled off Matt Reynolds (0-1), who had struck out Montero to end the 10th. Parra moved to third on Bloomquist's single off Matt Lindstrom, who proceeded to throw a wild pitch to bring Parra home.
The Rockies performed well enough defensively to win.
In the seventh, Tulowitzki's strong relay throw erased Bloomquist, who was going for a triple. Lopez made a glove flip to Tulowitzki to start a double play to end the seventh. In the top of the 10th, Tulowitzki fielded Mora's grounder and threw to catcher Chris Iannetta, who absorbed a charging Upton -- and took a massive, nasty bruise on the right side of his neck -- but made the tag.
"We played good defense," Lopez said. "We lost today. That's part of the game."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter@harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.