Rockies-Marlins Preview

Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson were two of the NL’s best

pitchers last year. While Johnson is off to an impressive start to

2011, Jimenez is hoping he hasn’t taken a step back.

Johnson looks to stay unbeaten for the Marlins as they meet

Jimenez and the Colorado Rockies in Sunday’s series finale.

Johnson (3-0, 1.00 ERA) extended his scoreless streak to 17

innings after giving up two hits in seven innings of a 6-0 win

against Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The right-hander, who struck out

nine for the second straight game, has allowed five runs – three

earned – and 10 hits over his first four starts.

Johnson’s effectiveness isn’t that surprising. Last season, he

led the NL with a 2.30 ERA while going 11-6. He added a curveball

to his repertoire, and that may be the reason for his

improvement.

“He’s getting more confident with that pitch,” Marlins manager

Edwin Rodriguez said. “It’s going to take him to the next

level.”

Johnson has a good chance to add to his early success as he’s

2-0 with a 1.25 ERA in three career starts against the Rockies.

Last year, he failed to earn a decision in their only meeting

despite yielding only one run while striking out 11 over 6 1-3

innings of a 3-2 victory on July 22.

Jimenez (0-1, 7.36) enjoyed a breakout season in 2010, allowing

a total of four runs in 41 1-3 innings while winning his first six

starts before finishing 19-8. However, it’s been a different story

early this year.

The right-hander struggled in his season debut against Arizona

on April 1, giving up six runs in six innings. He was put on the

disabled list a few days later with a cut cuticle on his pitching

thumb.

In his return, he allowed four runs – all in the first – and six

hits in five innings of a 6-3 loss to San Francisco on Tuesday.

“My velocity was a little bit off. It’s not like I’m going to

come back throwing 100 (miles per hour) right away,” said Jimenez,

whose fastball topped out at 94, but found better control when he

dialed it back.

Facing Florida might not help. Jimenez is 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA in

three starts against the Marlins. He gave up six runs – four earned

– in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-8 defeat last July 19.

After Florida (12-7) won the opener Friday behind a one-hitter

from Anibal Sanchez, Colorado (14-6) responded with an 3-1 victory

Saturday. Jason Hammel pitched 6 2-3 strong innings and bunted home

a run while Troy Tulowitzki had two hits and drove in a run.

“We got enough hits to win,” Tulowitzki said. “That’s all that

really matters. We didn’t play our best game at all, but we

manufactured some runs. It’s one of those games that is an ugly

win.”

The win was the Rockies’ third in seven games after an 11-2

start. They have scored three or fewer runs in five of their last

seven contests.

The loss snapped the Marlins’ four-game winning streak in which

they outscored opponents 25-6.

Hanley Ramirez’s slump continued as he went 0 for 4 and

committed his fifth error of the season. The 2009 NL batting

champion is hitless in the last three games, dropping his average

to .194.

Ramirez is 1 for 6 in his career against Jimenez.