Ubaldo wins lucky 13th against Twins
Right-hander throws eight strong as Rox salvage finale
MINNEAPOLIS -- With Francisco Liriano and Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound, Thursday's Rockies-Twins matchup had all the makings of a classic pitchers' duel.And it held true to form through both of their tenures -- with the first inning being an exception. Colorado jumped on Liriano, the Twins ace, from the get-go, producing three runs on four hits en route to a 5-1 win to avoid a three-game Interleague series sweep on the road. Jimenez breezed through seven innings before encountering some difficulties in the eighth. However, the right-hander escaped a two-hit, one walk inning, giving up only one run while recording his Major League-leading 13th win of the season.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
"Obviously that was a matchup of two very special young pitchers in the Major Leagues," manager Jim Tracy said. "I really feel like, offensively, we did what we need to do when you're facing someone the caliber of Francisco Liriano, just from the standpoint of when you've got a horse like that in the early stages of the game -- when he's trying to settle in and you're trying to create opportunity for yourself -- you have to capitalize and that's exactly what we did."Jimenez held the Twins to eight hits and two walks in eight innings. The Twins managed to get at least one runner on each inning, but Jimenez made it hard for them to string any hits together -- until the eighth inning when Drew Butera drove in pinch-runner Brendan Harris on a single to center for the Twins' lone run.
The win was perfect timing for the Rockies, as they are currently in a 13-out-of-16 stretch at home. The games against the Twins were their only three on the road, and Tracy is hoping this stretch will help the team make an impact before the All-Star break.Jimenez is now 10-0 when the Rockies, who dropped the first two in the series, lose at least one game immediately before his start. The right-hander said that although he doesn't try to pay attention to his personal record, he does enjoy being able to help his team get out of potential downward slides any way he can. "You don't want to be in that situation where every time you go out there you have to pitch to stop a losing streak," Jimenez said. "You take a lot of pride, especially when you've lost the first two games, to go out there and pitch for your team and get a win." The Rockies supported Jimenez from the start, quickly scoring three runs in the first inning off Twins ace Francisco Liriano. Troy Tulowitzki, Miguel Olivo and Melvin Mora all had RBIs in that inning. Good thing too, as Liriano held Colorado to only one hit and two walks through the remainder of his seven innings.
Tulowitzki left the game in the bottom of the eighth inning after being hit on the left wrist with a pitch in the top of the frame, and he's day-to-day. Center fielder Carlos Gonzalez also exited, having sustained a bruised left knee.A two-run blast to center by Ryan Spilborghs off reliever Alex Burnett in the eighth added some insurance runs. "It obviously helps," Spilborghs said of his home run. "Usually, when you give Ubaldo three runs, that usually seals the deal for most of our games. Adding two more runs takes a lot of the pressure off the bullpen and just puts us in a better frame of mind." Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Jimenez was just as good as advertised, if not better. The skipper added that he was impressed with the angle Jimenez put on the ball, and that combined with the speed and the number of quality pitches he throws, makes him the owner of a lethal combination. Gardenhire thought his ace did a good job on the mound as well, past the first inning. However, without that first inning taken into consideration, it would've been a scoreless game until the eighth inning. However, with four hits, one walk and two hit batsmen by Liriano in the first inning, it quickly became Jimenez's show. "Frankie was a little over-amped in the first inning, kind of misfiring and then he settled in and threw the ball really well after that," Gardenhire said. "I think we all saw you get behind three runs to a pitcher like that and he knows what to do with it. He's got great stuff. He made it pretty tough on us. We had a couple attacks on him but nothing came up big." With a pitcher who doesn't run out of gas for upwards of seven innings, it doesn't take much for the Rockies to assert the importance of having Jimenez on the mound. Spilborghs said all it takes for Jimenez to instill that confidence in his teammates is to just step on the mound and take hold of the ball. "We know every fifth day that he goes out there that we're going to win," Spilborghs said. "That in itself shows how much confidence we have in him."
Jocelyn Syrstad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.