Jimenez leads Colorado Rockies to 5-1 win over Twins
MINNEAPOLIS – Ubaldo Jimenez allowed one run on eight hits to improve to 13-1 on the season in Colorado’s 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.
Jimenez’s earned-run average dropped to 1.15 and the 26-year-old Dominican is off to the best start by a pitcher since Roger Clemens went 14-0 in 1986.
Ryan Spilborghs hit a two-run homer and Troy Tulowitzki added an RBI-triple and two runs for the Rockies, who avoided a three-game sweep in front of 40,741 fans at Target Field. Tulowitzki left the game in the eighth inning after being hit by a pitch.
The highly anticipated matchup against fellow Dominican Francisco Liriano (6-4) wasn’t even close. Liriano allowed three runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts in seven innings for the Twins.
Not a bad line on most days. Not nearly good enough against Jimenez, who became just the second pitcher in the last 80 years to win at least 13 of his first 14 starts, according to STATS LLC. Clemens went 13-0 in ’86 and Lefty Gomez also went 13-1 for the Yankees in 1932.
The Rockies jumped on Liriano early, who may have been a little too amped up to face his fellow countryman. Liriano allowed three runs on four hits, including an RBI-triple from Tulowitzki, hit two batters and walked another in a disastrous first inning.
He settled down after that, allowing just one hit over his final six innings.
By then it was too late.
Jimenez wasn’t especially overpowering on Thursday with four strikeouts. The radar gun never hit 100 as it has so often for him this year. Instead, the right-hander was ruthlessly efficient, inducing double-play grounders to end the second, third and fourth innings.
He did a little bit of everything on Thursday, picking Denard Span off of second base in the sixth inning, never allowing a runner to reach third base and holding the heart of the Twins lineup – Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer – to one hit in nine at-bats against him.
He gave up a double to pinch-hitter Jim Thome and an RBI-single to Drew Butera in the eighth inning, but got pinch-hitter Joe Mauer to line into another double play to end the inning.
Liriano definitely faced the better lineup on Thursday. Mauer, the AL MVP and three-time batting champion, did not start after taking a beating behind the plate the previous two games. The Twins continued to play without their starting middle infield of J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson, both on the disabled list with wrist injuries.
That left Butera to do the catching and Matt Tolbert at second base. Those two light hitters, however, did the only real damage against Jimenez. Butera, who entered the day hitting .135, went 1 for 2 with a walk and an RBI and Tolbert (.179) was 2 for 3 with a double.