Jimenez, Rockies’ bats still on fire
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado
CINCINNATI ” The Rockies are letting nothing get in their way these days, not even good friends.
They pounded former teammate Josh Fogg and completed their first series sweep on the road Sunday since, gulp, their magical September run by stomping the Cincinnati Reds 11-0.
Playing in cozy Great American Ball Park, the Rockies outscored the Reds 23-3 and boosted their record to 9-1 since the All-Star break. During that stretch, the Rockies have outscored opponents 76-32, all of which makes this rampage reminiscent of their 14-1 September sprint to the postseason but with one notable difference.
“Last year, when we were on that run, it seemed one pitch could make a difference in the ballgame,” Troy Tulowitzki said. “Last year, the games that we were winning (were) 4-3 or 3-2, and (we) had to make that one play or had to come up with that big hit. This run, it seems like we’re kind of beating up on teams.”
The Rockies banged out 14 hits, making it eight consecutive games that they’ve totaled at least 11 hits. The last time they reached double digits in eight straight games was Sept. 10-18, 1999.
The victory brought the Rockies within 10 games of .500 for the first time since May 25 (20-30). The last time they were fewer than 10 games below .500 was May 19 (19-27).
Ubaldo Jimenez became the first Rockies pitcher to win five games in July as he blanked the Reds for six innings. He extended his consecutive scoreless streak to 19 innings and finished July – his next scheduled start will be Friday, Aug. 1 at Florida – with a 5-1 record and 1.74 ERA in six starts.
“I have to say thank-you to July,” said Jimenez, who was coming off a four-hitter and his first complete game Tuesday, against Los Angeles, and didn’t have the same stuff that overmatched the Dodgers.
He got 13 outs on balls hit in the air, nine on balls that traveled to the outfield. Asked whether he could have pitched six scoreless innings a couple of months ago at a hitters’ ballpark like this one when he was having trouble keeping the ball down, Jimenez said, “I don’t think so. I probably would put in my mind like, ‘Oh, they probably going to hit home runs before I pitch.’ “
Jimenez had the benefit of a big early lead as the Rockies pounced on Fogg, who pitched 3 2/3 innings and retired only 11 of the 23 batters he faced. He gave up three runs in the third, the first on Garrett Atkins’ sacrifice fly and final two on Tulowitzki’s single.
Jeff Baker and Atkins each hit a two-run homer in the fourth, the latter on the 93rd and last pitch Fogg threw. The Rockies roughed up another former teammate, scoring their final three runs in the eighth off Jeremy Affeldt.
The series sweep sent the Rockies on to Pittsburgh with a wind, no, make that a definite gale, at their backs, for three games on the second leg of this 10-game trip. The Rockies just saw the Pirates, sweeping four games from them at Coors Field to start play in the second half.
The Pirates will be without left- handed reliever Damaso Marte and outfielder Xavier Nady, both traded to the New York Yankees last week for four minor leaguers. And lowly San Diego just went to Pittsburgh and swept a three- game series from the Pirates, all of which bodes well for the Rockies.
“You got to like our chances going in,” Tulowitzki said, “but it’s different on the road, and they’re definitely capable of playing good baseball, and I think they’re going to play a little different than they did when they were at Coors.”
The Rockies left Coors Field with a 14-36 road record but pulled off their first series sweep here since June 15-17, 2001. That was at Cinergy Field, which originally was known as Riverfront Stadium and was imploded to make way for the hitters’ paradise that is Great American Ball Park.
“We pitched as well as you could ever want to pitch in this ballpark,” manager Clint Hurdle said, “and offensively, we showed up
real good from the top of the lineup to the bottom of the lineup.”
The Rockies have been doing that since the All-Star break. They are hitting .371 in the second half and .301 with runners in scoring position while averaging 7.6 runs per game during their 10- game tear.
Opposing starters have lasted fewer than five innings in six of those games, the latest being Fogg.
“We’re rolling out close to 20 hits a game for the last week,” Brad Hawpe said. “I’m sure he’d rather catch us at a different time.”