Ubaldo's mates proud to be part of history
Defense gives big assist during first Rockies no-hitter
ATLANTA -- Veteran Colorado first baseman Todd Helton knows what no-hit stuff looks like.
Now he can say he was a part of a game in which a Rockies pitcher actually threw one.
Ubaldo Jimenez threw the first no-no in club history Saturday night in a 4-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Jimenez struck out seven and pitched around six walks.
For a franchise that plays its home games at hitter's haven Coors Field, which began storing its baseballs in an atmosphere-controlled chamber known as "the humidor" to keep them from shrinking, hardening and becoming difficult to throw in the mile-high atmosphere, a no-hitter seemed like something that other teams do.
"It's not really something you think about, but he's got the type of stuff where he's very capable of throwing a no-hitter every night," Helton said. "It's one thing to have the stuff, but to actually go out there and do it ... it was an awesome night, and he did it.
"A couple [Braves] guys that got on were saying, 'Wow, I don't know how you hit that.'"
Now the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays are left wondering when their day will come.
Jimenez, 26, entered Saturday with just two Major League complete games. He had three in the Minors before that. He said he had never thrown a no-hitter, not even in youth leagues.
On Saturday night, he had a bottle of champagne with him in front of his locker after etching his name in club history.
"It's a humbling thing to make history," Jimenez said. "I heard people always talking about the Rockies, that there's no way you can pitch there. All is good. It's wonderful."
On another night, a big part of the story might have been outfielder Carlos Gonzalez's return to the starting lineup. He suffered a left hamstring strain on Sunday and didn't play until a pinch-hit appearance on Friday night. On Saturday, he doubled twice, scored once and drove in two runs.
"I don't even care about the doubles," Gonzalez said, laughing. "Everything was about Ubaldo Jimenez."
Of course, Jimenez needed good defensive plays to help him make positive pitching history.
Jimenez played a part on the defensive end, working Chipper Jones into a 3-6-1 double play to end the first inning. Catcher Miguel Olivo picked Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami off second to end the third. Dexter Fowler's sliding catch of a Troy Glaus line drive in left-center and his running grab of Yunel Escobar's soft liner, both in the seventh, helped keep the Braves hitless.
It was a good night for a defense that came into the year with a stellar reputation, but had made nine errors in the season's first 10 games.
The gloves came through under no-hit pressure Saturday.
"Definitely, [there's a feeling of pressure] by the last inning for sure," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "You try not to say anything and try to be into every pitch in case the ball's hit your way. You want to make a good play to try to protect the no-hitter."
The last guy to protect it was second baseman Clint Barmes, who grabbed Brian McCann's soft bouncer and threw to Helton at first base to finish the ninth inning.
"At that point, I was like, 'I want to get this over with,'" Barmes said. "It was exciting. I was nervous. It wasn't hit real hard and it was one of those in-betweeners, but it got to my glove. I was glad it was over."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.