The Braves did two remarkable things Saturday night. They became the first team ever to be no-hit by a Colorado pitcher, and they became the first team in big-league annals to be no-hit by a pitcher whose first name begins with the letter “U.”
That’s correct. Urban Shocker, who pitched for the Browns and Yankees about 90-some years ago, did not throw a no-hitter. (Neither did Urly Wynn — heh, heh.) But Ubaldo Jimenez did the deed Saturday night, and here was what Terry Pendleton, the Braves’ hitting coach, had to say about the Colorado pitcher’s first name: “It’s unique.”
Ubaldo. Unique. An uncanny bit of alliteration!
Asked how Ubaldo’s no-no compared to Randy Johnson’s perfecto of 2004, Chipper Jones noted: “I didn’t even foul a ball off against Randy.” (For the record, Chipper put three balls in play against Jimenez.)
Eddie Perez, now the Braves’ bullpen coach, recalled how he’d ended the perfect game by striking out. Then he also noted Brian McCann had made the final out Saturday. “A catcher both times,” Perez said.
While the Braves were obviously overwhelmed by Ubaldo, this no-hitter — hey, we’re looking for bright spots, OK? — wasn’t nearly as dominant as the one of six years ago. Johnson struck out 13 and ran the count to three balls only once. Jimenez walked six, striking out seven.
Perhaps you’ll recall that Jimenez was the hot young arm on the Rockies’ team of 2007 that won 21 of 22 games in September/October to claim the National League wild card and then reach the World Series. Back then he couldn’t throw anything but a fastball for a strike. On Saturday he was throwing his breaking ball for strikes with the count 2-0. Big difference.
What, Pendleton was asked, can a hitting coach do when a opponent is dealing like that? “Nothing,” he said. “Hope he makes a mistake.”
And here we must note that Ubaldo undressed — more alliteration! — a lineup that included Nate McLouth, who’s hitting .148 with no extra-base hits; Melky Cabrera, who’s hitting .125 with one extra-base hit, and Troy Glaus, who’s hitting .216 with one extra-base hit. The Braves are hitting .230 as a team, 15th-best in a 16-team league.
This needs to improve forthwith. Philadelphia comes to town for three games beginning Tuesday night. Just sayin’.
And with that, we’ll open the floor for questions, comments and advice for Terry Pendleton. I’ll be here all day, and I have the utmost — another “u”-word! — confidence the Braves will muster at least one hit before nightfall. Join me, won’t you?
UPDATE: McLouth is taking a well deserved day off. Matt Diaz, hitting .136, will bat first and play left field. Cabrera starts in center, batting eighth.