A defeat Friday would result in the Colorado Rockies’ longest losing streak of the season.
They certainly have the right man on the mound to prevent it from happening.
Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) already has one six-game winning streak this year, but Colorado’s burgeoning ace will have the powerful Toronto Blue Jays standing in his way of repeating the feat in the opener of a three-game set at Coors Field.
Jimenez (11-1, 0.93 ERA) came into the season with a 31-28 record and a 3.80 ERA, but through 12 starts, he’s been better than any pitcher in nearly a century.
The slender right-hander carried a 26-inning scoreless streak into Sunday’s start at Arizona, and extended it to 33 before giving up a two-run homer to Conor Jackson(notes) in the eighth. That wasn’t enough to beat Jimenez, though, as he stretched his latest win streak to five with a 3-2 victory.
Only left-hander Dutch Leonard’s 0.83 ERA through 12 starts with the Red Sox in 1914 was lower than what Jimenez has accomplished by allowing nine earned runs in 87 1-3 innings. Leonard finished with a 1.00 ERA, the lowest for a single season in the modern era.
Jimenez has never faced the Blue Jays, and he’s 2-4 with a 4.20 ERA in six career starts against the AL.
Colorado (30-30) is an NL-best 13-5 in interleague play since the start of 2009, but enters this series having lost three straight and six of eight.
Jackson’s homer was only the second allowed by Jimenez, but in his first start against Toronto (34-27), he’ll face a lineup more than capable of taking him deep. The Blue Jays’ 98 homers through 61 games put them on pace to come up just short of toppling the 1997 Mariners (264) for the single-season record.
Jimenez’s mound opponent is no slouch, either. Ricky Romero(notes) (5-2, 3.06) went the distance in a 6-1 win over Baltimore on May 30, then limited the Yankees to two runs over eight innings in a 3-2, 14-inning win Saturday.
“For us, who would you rather have on the mound than Ubaldo?” Tulowitzki said. “(Romero) is no slouch, though. He’s a good pitcher and has had some success in the big leagues. It’s going to be a good pitchers’ duel and we’ll see what happens.”
Tulowitzki and his teammates could certainly use a spark. Colorado beat Houston 5-1 on Monday in the opener of a seven-game homestand, but dropped the series’ final three games after a 5-4 loss Thursday.
The Blue Jays are coming off a 4-5 stretch against the Yankees and Rays - the majors’ top teams record-wise. Toronto had dropped three straight before winning 3-2 at Tampa Bay to close a three-game set.
All three previous series between the Jays and Rockies - two in Toronto and one at Denver in 2006 - resulted in home sweeps.