DENVER -- Ubaldo Jimenez sauntered off the mound and doffed
his cap to the appreciative Coors Field crowd giving him an
enthusiastic standing ovation.
Was this goodbye?
If so, the powerful right-hander gave Colorado general manager
Dan O'Dowd and the Rockies faithful a taste of what they'd be
missing if he's indeed traded this month.
"It felt really good. It's been a long time since I got one of
those," Jimenez said. "And especially hearing so many things. I
don't know if that's going to be my last one here. So, it felt
Jimenez (6-8) won for the fifth time in his last six decisions,
allowing two runs and seven hits over 6 2/3 innings. The only
blemishes were the two homers he served up to Dan Uggla. Jimenez
struck out nine and walked two before soaking in the cheers from
fans hoping he stays in purple pinstripes for countless more nights
like this one.
Jimenez hopes so, too.
"This is the team that I've always been on. I love this team,"
Would he tell that to O'Dowd?
"I think he already knows," Jimenez said. "But like I said
before, they are going to do anything that is good for the team."
With so many holes on his roster, O'Dowd has said he'll listen
to all offers but will have to be overwhelmed to part with his ace,
who is signed for the next three years at just under $18 million.
After dealing with the speculation swirling around him and
questions from concerned fans cluttering up his Facebook page for
the last week, Jimenez was able to clear from his mind for a few
hours the unthinkable notion that he could be dealt just a year
after starting the All-Star Game.
"Once I cross the line, I'm just thinking about getting the
hitters out," Jimenez said. "It doesn't matter how many things I
hear, I'm just trying to focus on the hitter, go after the hitter.
And probably after the game, I'm going to keep listening to things.
But that's a good time to listen, after the game."
Jimenez isn't scheduled to start at home again until after the
July 31 trade deadline, which he's praying comes and goes without
him having to pack his bags.
"I'm just going to keep doing my thing, working hard, just
showing up to the stadium. Whatever happens is going to happen,"
Jimenez has rebounded from a slow start caused in part by
nagging thumb and hip injuries, but the Rockies have underperformed
all season, never reaching the heights they expected behind the Big
Three O's -- Ubaldo, Tulo and CarGo.
This night was the exception for Jimenez and the scuffling
Tulowitzki and Gonzalez staked Jimenez to an early cushion with
home runs off rookie righty Brandon Beachy (3-2), who couldn't find
the necessary sink on his pitches to succeed at Coors Field.
Beachy allowed six earned runs and nine hits while struggling
through 4 2/3 innings.
"He had trouble getting the breaking ball to break," Braves
manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You do that to pretty good hitters
and get the ball up in the strike zone, you're going to get those
Heeding his manager's advice to be more patient at the plate,
Tulowitzki sent a full-count offering into the left-field seats for
his 18th homer, a three-run shot, in the first. Gonzalez connected
on No. 14 in the second inning, a two-run, no-doubt shot to the
second deck in right field.
It was the first win for Colorado in six tries against the
Braves this month, and for once Atlanta rookie Freddie Freeman
didn't do any damage at the plate.
Freeman entered the game 10 for 19 against the Rockies after
clubbing five homers and knocking in 10 runs against them. He was
hitless in three at-bats against Jimenez, striking out twice,
including a called third strike that stranded two runners in the
Seth Smith, who drove in three runs, doubled home Tulowitzki,
who narrowly missed his second homer, in the third to make it 6-0.
The big innings seemed to poach Jimenez's momentum on the mound
as he gave up Uggla's first homer leading off the fourth. Jimenez
struck out six of the next eight batters until serving up Uggla's
17th homer that made it 6-2 in the sixth.
NOTES: Uggla extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He has 12
multihomer games in his career. ... Broadcaster Jerry Schemmel of
the Rockies' flagship radio station KOA biked 112 miles Tuesday in
memory of the lives lost on United Flight 232 from Denver to
Chicago in 1989. Schemmel is a survivor of that crash.