D-backs run Jimenez, win in extra frames

BY foxsports • April 1, 2011

Ubaldo Jimenez has six different pitches to befuddle batters. On Friday, he couldn't find the proper spin on his breaking balls or enough zip on his heaters.

It added up to a terrible 2011 debut for the Colorado Rockies ace who started out 15-1 last season.

Jimenez looked like he was throwing batting practice Friday, laboring through six innings, allowing six runs — five earned — on seven hits and a wild pitch in a 7-6, 11-inning loss to Arizona at Coors Field.

He was long gone by the time Matt Lindstrom's wild pitch with one out in the top of the 11th inning allowed Gerardo Parra to score from third base with the go-ahead run.

All but one of the hits he allowed went for extra bases, including home runs by Justin Upton and Miguel Montero.

Knowing he lacked his usual breaking stuff, he stuck with fastballs, but his heaters were topping out at 93 mph instead of the usual 99-100.

''If I have the speed that I normally do, it's not easy to hit it even if they know that I'm going to be throwing fastball every time,'' Jimenez said. ''But I didn't have the movement, I didn't have the speed.''

After averaging 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings last year, Colorado's ace whiffed just one batter.

His unusual futility finally caught up to him in the fifth, when Upton's three-run homer put Arizona ahead 4-3.

''It wasn't as electric,'' Upton said of Jimenez's repertoire. ''I don't know exactly what he was throwing but it wasn't jumping like it usually does.''

Jimenez said he couldn't locate his curveball in the bullpen warming up and had to stick with fastballs.

''That's the only thing I had,'' he said.

And without the usual oomph, he didn't even have that.

In the sixth, Montero collected his fifth career hit — and third career homer - off Jimenez, sending a 2-1 pitch into the bullpen in right-center to give the Diamondbacks a 6-3 cushion.

''It's kind of weird. To be honest, I don't think he was throwing that hard,'' Montero said. ''Today he didn't have the greatest stuff, he wasn't throwing near as hard as (normal) and we were able to take advantage.''

Jimenez, last year's NL All-Star Game starter, walked away with a 7.50 ERA.

Jimenez felt worst, however, about walking pitcher Ian Kennedy in the fifth before allowing a single to Willie Bloomquist, who started at shortstop with Stephen Drew held out of the lineup as he recovers from a strained abdominal muscle. One out later, Upton's three-run shot put Arizona ahead.

''That's what hurt me the most,'' Jimenez said. ''You never want to be walking the pitcher. Every time that happens, it's going to get in your head and always there's a problem that's going to come after that.''

The last time Jimenez struck out just one batter was on May 21, 2008, against San Francisco, when he tossed seven innings in a no-decision.

Jimenez said he felt fine physically and wasn't worried that this bad outing was more than a one-time deal, and his teammates brushed off their ace's unusually poor performance.

''He can be nervous, too. He's allowed that,'' Todd Helton said. ''His stuff looked good. I think we're all right.''

NOTE: Colorado RHP Aaron Cook (broken finger) made 50 throws at 100 feet Friday as he embarked on his comeback that is expected to last for weeks.

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