Becoming the third 20-game winner in the majors would surely bolster Ubaldo Jimenez’s(notes) chances at his first NL Cy Young Award. A more pressing concern, however, is getting the Colorado Rockies untracked.
Jimenez will try to help the Rockies avoid a three-game slide with another strong performance against the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.
Jimenez (19-6, 2.84 ERA) is trying to join CC Sabathia(notes) of the New York Yankees and Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay(notes) as 20-game winners this season. Halladay reached the mark Tuesday, and is expected to be Jimenez’s main competition for the Cy Young.
The right-hander, the first Rockies pitcher with more than 17 victories in a season, is also trying to become the first Dominican-born 20-game winner since Bartolo Colon(notes) won 21 with the Angels in 2005.
“Just to be mentioned in that category would be really big,” Jimenez said. “When the season is over, maybe I’ll have time to think about what I’ve done. But right now I don’t worry about whether I win 19 or 20. I’m just trying to be out there for my team and I’m just happy every time the team wins.”
Colorado (82-68) could use another strong effort from Jimenez after falling 3-1 at Arizona (60-91) in the opener of this three-game set Tuesday.
The Rockies are vying for their first division title in the franchise’s 18-year history, but they’re third in the NL West, two games back of San Diego and 2 1/2 behind first-place San Francisco.
Colorado, which is also three games behind wild card-leading Atlanta, begins a three-game home set against the Giants on Friday.
Before that, Jimenez will try to improve upon his 5-2 record and 2.12 ERA over his last nine starts against the Diamondbacks. He was superb against them Sept. 11, yielding one run with eight strikeouts in six innings but received no support and didn’t get a decision in a 2-1 win.
Jimenez saw plenty of help Friday, allowing four runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-5 win at Los Angeles. He needs six strikeouts to match his career high of 198 set last year, and the Diamondbacks have been fanned 1,403 times to set a major league record.
The Rockies are 9-7 against the Diamondbacks this season despite losing five of seven at Chase Field.
The right-hander will now try to dent his former teammates’ playoff chances by beating them for the first time. He’s 0-3 with a 4.64 ERA in four games - three starts - against the Rockies with each of the losses coming this year.
Lopez took the most recent defeat opposite Jimenez on Sept. 11, allowing two runs in 6 1-3 innings. He was even better five days later, yielding one run in seven innings of a 3-1 win over NL Central-leading Cincinnati to get his first victory in 12 starts.
“I started feeling more confident,” Lopez said. “I’m not fighting myself. I’m keeping the ball down and just letting it go. I’m keeping more focused during the game.”