Jimenez throws first no-hitter in Rox history
Right-hander rolls, backed by Fowler's defensive gem
ATLANTA -- Ubaldo Jimenez bowed his head and raised his arms in fittingly quiet celebration, as joyful noise broke out around him.
Jimenez always has been a quiet, regal sort who lets his fastball, which often reaches triple digits and rarely travels at less than 96 mph, causes others to shout. And shout they did on Saturday night, after he completed the first no-hitter in the Rockies' 18-year history, a 4-0 victory over the Braves at Turner Field.
The emotion that never comes out in words painted Jimenez's face as soon as the Braves' Brian McCann bounced to second baseman Clint Barmes for the final out. First baseman Todd Helton, who joined the Rockies in 1997 and saw years of bad pitching before the current wave of hurlers, was the first to hug Jimenez before a stream of revelers in black jerseys engulfed him.
"That's an unbelievable feeling, having your teammates enjoying the time with you and just hugging you, admiring everything we did," Jimenez said. "Not only I did it. It was the whole team. Every single guy was pulling for me. You can see it in their faces."
Jimenez also heard it through his cell phone, in calls to his mother, niece and brother-in-law, who are staying in Denver, and to his father and sister, who were watching from his home in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.
"They were watching every single pitch," he said. "I couldn't understand what they were saying because they were yelling so much."
Jim Tracy joined the Rockies as bench coach before last season and became the team's fifth manager last May 29. From that point, the team overcame an 18-28 start and marched to the playoffs. Now Tracy has seen an unprecedented moment in club history.
Wild but in control
|Jim Maloney||8/19/65||Cin.||@ Chi.||10|
|A.J. Burnett||5/12/01||Fla.||@ S.D.||9|
|Dock Ellis||6/12/70||Pit.||@ S.D.||8|
|Tommy Greene||5/23/91||Phi.||@ Mon.||7|
|Joe Cowley||9/19/86||Chi.||@ Cal.||7|
|Ubaldo Jimenez||4/17/10||Col.||@ Atl.||6|
|Jack Morris||4/7/84||Det.||@ Chi.||6|
|Jim Bibby||7/30/73||Tex.||@ Oak.||6|
|Steve Busby||4/27/73||K.C.||@ Det.||6|
|Don Wilson||5/1/69||Hou.||@ Cin.||6|
|Wilson Alvarez||8/11/91||Chi.||@ Bal.||5|
|Juan Nieves||4/15/87||Mil.||@ Bal.||5|
|Bill Stoneman||4/17/69||Mon.||@ Phi.||5|
|Ray Washburn||9/18/68||Stl.||@ S.F.||5|
|George Culver||7/29/68||Cin.||@ Phi.||5|
|Dean Chance||8/25/67||Min.||@ Cle.||5|
"In order for special things to happen, you have to have special people," Tracy said. "We have a whole clubhouse full of them. But this is this man's night tonight. In my opinion, it couldn't happen to a better human being and a more talented human being than this guy."
Carlos Gonzalez, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time in five games after dealing with tightness in his left hamstring, doubled twice and drove in two runs. But the night belonged to Jimenez, who, by the way, singled in a run and scored a run in the Rockies' three-run fourth.
The Braves stood little chance of solidly hitting Jimenez's blazing fastball. Three of them officially measured 100 mph while he walked Troy Glaus in the second inning -- one of six walks he issued through the first five innings.
"He's not a comfortable at-bat, because the next pitch could be in your ear or on the black," the Braves' Chipper Jones said. "I thought, to be honest with you, we put them in play. It's not like he struck out 15 or 16 guys. We put the ball in play. We just couldn't get anything to fall."
So, in a sense, the moment snuck up on everyone.
"I was nervous in the eighth or ninth, when I started to realize [what was happening]," Helton said.
That could be because he had never seen a pitcher make it that far with no hits. Before Saturday, the longest hitless outing in club history came on Aug. 11, 2002, when Jason Jennings' no-no attempt against the Pirates went 6 2/3 innings. Jennings, Tom Martin and Brian Fuentes combined on the only one-hitter in club history, on June 20, 2006, a 6-0 victory over the Athletics at Coors Field.
The Mets, Padres and Rays are now the only franchises without a no-hitter.
"It was probably the fifth inning, I looked up [at the scoreboard]," Jimenez said. "Most of the guys that got on base, I walked them. But after the seventh was when I started thinking about it more."
After Jimenez walked the leadoff hitter in the third, fourth and fifth innings, pitching coach Bob Apodaca suggested he pitch from the stretch. That helped keep him in the strike zone, which meant he stayed out of danger of being removed because of a high pitch count.
"I saw [the Giants' Tim] Lincecum do it," Jimenez said. "He wasn't good from the windup, then he got from the stretch. It came to my mind. But then Apodaca came to me and I was like, 'Of course I'm going to try it.' "
Jimenez threw 83 pitches through five innings but needed just 45 for the final four. He finished with 72 strikes in 128 pitches. After walking Jason Heyward to open the fifth, he retired 15 straight.
"He wasn't tired, believe me," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He could have thrown 150 pitches and he would have been throwing 98 [mph]."
Jimenez finished with seven strikeouts but didn't surpass his walk total until he left Heyward skipping out of the way of a 97-mph fastball that caught the inside corner to end the seventh.
The awareness that something special was happening came after two standout plays by Atlanta-area native and Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler in the seventh.
Fowler, who is 6-foot-5 with one of baseball's longest and speediest strides, dashed from just right of center to the left-center gap and stretched to backhand Glaus' line drive near the warning track. He also came toward the infield and made a harder-than-it-looked catch on Yunel Escobar's low line drive.
"It's a great feeling, and I'm really happy to do it for Jimenez," Fowler said. "Anything I can do to help."
The Rockies weren't sure what to do to help Jimenez as the game neared its conclusion. Holding to baseball superstition, no player let the phrase "no-hitter" pass through his lips.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki sat with Jimenez during the one of the middle innings and had a "normal conversation," not wanting to have awkward dialogue.
Jimenez said that he talked quite a bit to fellow pitcher Jorge De La Rosa and utility infielder Melvin Mora between innings and wouldn't let them avoid him later on.
De La Rosa gave Jimenez a Red Bull, then fulfilled another odd request.
"I got him an ammonia [capsule] -- he said he was slipping a little bit," De La Rosa said.
Mora wouldn't let Jimenez's mood slip.
"I told him to kick [tail]," said Mora, who beat all his teammates from the dugout to the field after the final out.
In the ninth, Jimenez needed 16 pitches for the final outs -- a Martin Prado popup to Barmes, a Jones fly ball to Gonzalez in left and McCann's grounder.
"Before the ninth, I was like, 'What can I do? I'm going to ask God to give me strength to keep going,' " Jimenez said. "Keep pounding the strike zone, make them swing the bat, and it could probably happen.
"It was a long way to get to the ninth inning."
A long wait that extended into their 18th year is finally over for the Rockies.
First no-hitter for each franchise (Post-1900)
|Angels||Bo Belinsky||Orioles||May 5, 1962|
|Astros||Don Nottebart||Phillies||May 17, 1963|
|Athletics (1)||Weldon Henley||Browns||July 22, 1905|
|Blue Jays||Dave Steib||Indians||Sept. 2, 1990|
|Braves (2)||Big Jeff Pfeffer||Reds||May 8, 1907|
|Brewers||Juan Nieves||Orioles||April 15, 1987|
|Cardinals||Jesse Haines||Braves||July 17, 1924|
|Cubs||Jimmy Lavender||Giants||Aug. 31, 1915|
|D-Backs||Randy Johnson||Braves||May 18, 2004|
|Dodgers (3)||Mal Eason||Cardinals||July 20, 1906|
|Giants (4)||Christy Matthewson||Cardinals||July 15, 1901|
|Indians||Bob Rhoads||Red Sox||Sept. 18, 1908|
|Mariners||Randy Johnson||Tigers||June 2, 1990|
|Mets||Yet to throw no-hitter|
|Marlins||Al Leiter||Rockies||May 11, 1996|
|Nationals (5)||Bill Stoneman||Phillies||April 17, 1969|
|Orioles (6)||Earl Hamilton||Tigers||Aug. 30, 1912|
|Padres||Yet to throw no-hitter|
|Phillies||Chuck Fraser||Cubs||Sept. 18, 1903|
|Pirates||Nick Maddox||Superbas||Sept. 20, 1907|
|Rangers||Jim Bibby||Athletics||July 30, 1973|
|Rays||Matt Garza||Tigers||July 26, 2010|
|Red Sox (7)||Cy Young*||Athletics||May 5, 1904|
|Reds||Nixey Callahan||Phillies||July 12, 1900|
|Rockies||Ubaldo Jimenez||Braves||April 17, 2010|
|Royals||Steve Busby||Tigers||April 27, 1973|
|Tigers||George Mullin||Browns||July 4, 1912|
|Twins (8)||Walter Johnson||Red Sox||July 1, 1920|
|White Sox||Frank Smith||Tigers||Sept. 6, 1905|
|Yankees||George Mogridge||Red Sox||April 24, 1917|
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.