Jimenez afterglow is 'wonderful dream'
ATLANTA -- No one told Ubaldo Jimenez he'd have trouble sleeping the night after throwing a no-hitter.
Who on the Colorado Rockies could have warned Jimenez? There was no one to prepare Jimenez for what would come after allowing no hits in Saturday night's 4-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. No other pitcher in the Rockies' 18-year history has thrown a no-hitter.
Jimenez said Sunday he slept only about two hours and in his groggy state wondered if the no-hitter really happened.
"It was like a wonderful dream I was having," Jimenez said. "If it was reality or a dream, it was wonderful."
Finally, about 6:30 Sunday morning, Jimenez took to the streets of Atlanta and ran six miles, a mile or two longer than his normal ritual the day after his starts.
The run cleared his mind. He hadn't caught up on his sleep when he returned to Turner Field a few hours later. He was still savoring his no-hitter.
He said he saw highlights of the game on TV and especially enjoyed the reaction of his teammates.
"It was great to see our team there and to see all the guys jumping around and having a good time," he said. "You never know when it's going to happen again. You have to enjoy the moment."
Jimenez, already recognized as having one of the strongest arms in baseball, had fastballs timed at 98 mph in the ninth inning. For the game, his fastball averaged 96.8 mph.
"Stuff-wise, he's always been in the top," Braves catcher David Ross said. "His stuff is unbelievable."
Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said Jimenez gives the Rockies an ace to match up against other top starting pitchers.
"It's a huge step for any team when you have a guy who is an ace, a guy who stops losing streaks and continues winning streaks," Tulowitzki said. "He's someone you can rely on come playoff time. To beat the Phillies or to beat some of the other top teams, you want a guy who can match up with the other team's ace. We have that with him."
Jimenez is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He already had six losses before his third win last season. He gained momentum with a 9-3 second half of the 2009 season to finish 15-12 with a 3.47 ERA -- the lowest for any starting pitcher in team history.
Ross said he was impressed Jimenez made an adjustment after walking six batters in the first five innings. Jimenez began pitching out of the stretch and didn't walk another batter.
"You could tell he had learned a lot, with him switching his delivery into just going to the stretch to get more control," Ross said. "That's what veteran guys do. That's what guys with experience do. They figure out what's working and they go with that."
The Rockies' first no-hitter came in the team's 2,703rd game. Colorado manager Jim Tracy said "there was a strong realization" in the Rockies' clubhouse that Jimenez is capable of throwing more no-hitters.
Tracy said Jimenez "may take another three or four of them into the seventh inning, eighth inning.
"Oh yeah, he's very capable of that, because I think he's going to continue to get better, too."
Jimenez threw a major league-high 128 pitches. Tracy said the high pitch count was his only concern.
"We had the bullpen ready to go, ready in the eighth and ready in the ninth," Tracy said Sunday. "If they'd gotten a hit, I was going to take him out."
Tracy said it's a challenge to find a reliever capable of following Jimenez.
"I was thinking if I have to replace him, what I have to replace him with had better be really, really good," Tracy said. "It better be very special. That's the thing you're going to run into with a guy like this. What you bring in behind this, this is real special stuff. No disrespect meant to anyone else. ... The other side of the field is like 'Oh, thank you' and they don't care who is coming in."
Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter in the majors since White Sox ace Mark Buehrle tossed a perfect game in a 5-0 victory over Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009.
The Rockies are scheduled to open a four-game series at Washington on Monday.
Jimenez said he'll be rested by his scheduled start against the Nationals on Thursday.
"I'll sleep tonight for sure," he said.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press