One tough game for Rockies, Jimenez

Tough loss for the Rockies last night, but that's nothing new; the Rockies' 17-20 record in one-run games is the worst in the National League West (but pales next to the Cubs' 13-27 mark). What really hurt was losing 1-0 with their best pitcher pitching brilliantly:

    Ubaldo Jimenez was hoping to become the first Rockies pitcher to win 18 games. And even though Jose Reyes' run-scoring sacrifice fly was all Jimenez allowed, he was still denied the coveted 18th victory.

    "For me I don't care if I win or lose the game. I just care about the team," said Jimenez, the majors' wins leader who dropped to 17-3. "I don't think about my stats, only team stats. We lost the game and it was a really important game for us. I'm really sorry we lost the game."

    While Jimenez kept an even keel about his loss, Rockies manager Jim Tracy had a hard time swallowing the 1-0 defeat for his ace.

    "It was a tough game to lose, but personally I think it was even tougher for our starting pitcher," Tracy said. "He is now 17-3 and (in) two of his three losses he's had a total of zero run support. He had a start earlier in the season in Los Angeles where he gave up a run through seven innings (and lost) and (last night) he pitches seven innings and gives up a run and ends up a hard luck loser. If you don't score you can't win."

I'm usually among the first to sympathize with pitchers stuck with lousy run support. But when you see a pitcher who's 17-3, you can usually assume that he's pitched really well and been blessed with (at least) decent run support.

Which he has, on both counts. The Rockies have scored 5.5 runs per nine innings in Jimenez's starts, which is actually the highest rate in his career by quite a lot. On the 23rd of June, he gave up six runs and got a no-decision (Rockies won, 8-6). Two weeks later he gave up seven runs and got another no-decision (Rockies lost that one). Two weeks later he gave up six runs and got another no-decision (Rockies lost again). And in his next start, Jimenez gave up six runs (again) and this time he did take the loss, just his second of the season.

That concluded a run of six starts in which Jimenez posted a 7.64 ERA but lost just once because the Rockies scored 40 runs.

More relevant to the team -- and to Jimenez, if you believe him (I do) -- his little slump seems to have ended, as he's given up just one run in each of his past three starts. If he keeps pitching like this, he'll keep winning. I don't believe he's been (or is) the best pitcher in the National League. But if he wins 22 or 23 games he's going to be the favorite choice for a bunch of Cy Young voters.