I don’t remember a day in recent baseball history as memorable as today, my lovely girlfriend Holly’s birthday no less. Thanks to her for permitting me to use the better part of her birthday’s final hour to write this post. A quick rundown of the events of April 17th-
- Ubaldo Jimenez pitches the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history. More on that later.
- Pat Burrell hits a 2-run walk off HR in the 12th inning to win the suspended game from the night before over the Red Sox, 3-1.
- The Cardinals and Mets play a marathon 20-inning game that was finally saved by Mike Pelfrey, 2-1. A total of 652 pitches were thrown by 19 pitchers. This would absolutely be blog worthy on any other day.
But today, let’s talk about young Ubaldo. 128 pitches, 72 strikes, 7 strikeouts, 6 walks, 1 balk, 0 hits, and 1 final fastball-heard-round-the-league clocking in at 97 mph. The two things that jump out at me immediately are his strength at the end of a 128 pitch journey and his control, or relative lack thereof. I’ll focus on the latter since that is easier to search for. Most statheads will agree that one name comes to mind when they hear walks mentioned in the same sentence as no-hitter- A.J. Burnett.
A quick search of Baseball Reference’s gamelogs reveals a list of every no-hitter, sorted by most walks. Jim Maloney of the Reds leads the way with a 10 inning, 10 walk no-hitter in 1965. Burnett ranks right behind him with his 9 walk no-hitter from 2001 with the Marlins. After them, there have been two 8 walk efforts, and six 7 walk efforts. That puts Ubaldo’s effort at tied for 11th all-time.
Another search yields a more interesting result. Ubaldo becomes the first pitcher from 1920-present to pitch a no-hitter and commit a balk in the same game. Before today, the most IP logged by a starting pitcher who left the game with 0 hits allowed and 1 balk, was 6 innings, by the late Darryl Kile in 1991. Of course this is a pretty obscure stat since most pitchers throwing no-hitters don’t leave the game until they allow a hit, but it is pretty cool nonetheless.
There are a couple more interesting tidbits surrounding this no-hitter. Firstly, Ubaldo becomes the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter with a first name starting with a U, and the first with a first name starting with a vowel since Anibal Sanchez accomplished the feat with the Marlins in 2006. More interestingly, Sanchez’s no-hitter was caught by Miguel Olivo, and the home plate umpire was Jeff Kellogg. Behind the plate for Ubaldo? None other than Olivo and Kellogg again.
So, Ubaldo has already made history for the relatively new Rockies franchise. Is he the best pitcher in franchise history at the tender age of 26? The verdict: not yet. With only 518.1 career innings logged, he is already on the top 10 leader boards in nearly every relevant category. Barring a setback or a trade, he should be at the top of them in no time. Congrats Ubaldo.