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The wheels fell off for Ubaldo Jimenez on Sunday in Arizona.
Of course, the definition of wheels falling off is quite a bit different for the Cy Young candidate.
Jimenez has long been due for a bad outing after starting the season 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA. In his lone loss, Jimenez gave up just one run on two hits. On Sunday, he gave up all of two runs in the Rockies 3-2 win over the D-Backs.
So after 11 straight incredible starts, Jimenez finally saw his ERA go up. For Rockies fans, it almost felt like a loss when Conor Jackson stroked a two-run home run off of the righty in the eighth inning. It was just the second time Jimenez has given up more than one run in a game, and the runs were just the eighth and ninth runs respectively.
Before running out of gas in the 8th inning, Jimenez set a new Rockies record for consecutive scoreless innings. The new mark stands at 33, officially eliminating Gabe White, the previous record holder, from the minds of the majority of fans. White's record stood at 29-1/3 innings. He accomplished that in arguably the best season for a reliever in 2000.
Any other former Rockies pitchers holding records may want to enjoy it while it lasts. Jimenez is on a path of record book destruction. He became the first Major League pitcher to win 11 games so far in 2011. Roy Halladay, the nearest contender in the early Cy Young race, sits at eight wins.
Jimenez looked like he might not have it out of the gate. After Troy Tulowitzki booted a routine grounder in the first the Dominican found himself with the bases loaded and just one out. In a testament to Jimenez's season, it was the first time Jimenez has had the bases loaded.
Having the bases full proved to be no contest for Jimenez, who induced Chris Young into an inning-ending double play. Truth is, he got help on a great play from both Clint Barmes at second who fielded the ball up the middle and Troy Tulowitzki, who showed off his arm to beat the speedy Young.
After a first inning that suggested Jimenez might not have his "A" game, the fireballer quieted the skeptics, promptly mowing through the Diamondbacks for the next six innings.
Jimenez had done everything required of him to earn the right to go back out for the eighth inning, despite having already firing 105 pitches. However, Jimenez left the ball up to Kelly Johnson who nearly put the ball out of the park to left field. He settled for a double and scored when Jackson launched his home run. After Jimenez walked Adam LaRoche Jim Tracy pulled the plug, wisely allowing Jimenez to leave the game without being able to take the loss.
In total, Jimenez went seven innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits. He struck out eight and walked two. His ERA rose to a ridiculous 0.93.
At some point in the season it seems inevitable that Jimenez will give up a bunch of runs and watch his tiny ERA go well above the 1.00 mark. However, Jimenez simply continues to dominate. It may seem easy to suggest that he is due for regression, but it would be logical to suggest that that would have already happened.
Jimenez is scheduled to make six more starts before the All-Star game. Even a 3-3 record would put him at 14-4 heading into the break. It is conceivable to think that the righty could be a 16-game winner by the break.
Remember this, in 2007 Jeff Francis tied the Rockies record for wins in a season with 17. At the time the thought was that it would take an incredible season for someone who pitches at Coors Field to break that mark. At this point, if Jimenez fails to record more than 17 wins, it would be a huge disappointment for the Rockies.
If Sunday was an example of the wheels falling off for Jimenez, it is possible that he could win 25 games.