08/25/10 3:04 PM ET
Ubaldo facing LA in fourth attempt at win No. 18
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
Before the angry e-mails come flying in from the Todd Helton Fan Club, this is a hex reserved only for the pitching staff. A grand total of four pitchers have won 17 games in a season for the franchise record: Kevin Ritz (1996), Pedro Astacio ('99), Jeff Francis (2007) and, most recently, Ubaldo Jimenez ('10).
Jimenez picked up his 17th win of the season back on Aug. 4 and has gone out in search of No. 18 three times since. Three times, he came up empty, though it certainly wasn't his fault. He dropped a 1-0 game to the Mets in his first attempt, lost a chance at the victory against the Brewers when Clint Barmes missed a popup and then lost a 3-1 game to the D-backs.
"I made a lot of mistakes in the whole game and they just made me pay in those two pitches," Jimenez said after his loss to Arizona. "I was trying to be there for my team, throw strikes and get hitters out. I wish every time I go out there I can throw a shutout, but it's not like that."
If things continue to unfold as they have in his past three starts, Jimenez might need to throw a shutout against the Dodgers on Friday to get that elusive 18th win. He gave up just seven earned runs over 21 innings in those outings (3.00 ERA). His offense has backed him up with just four runs in the two losses he accrued, though Colorado did eventually win that game against Milwaukee.
All that has kept Jimenez from setting the franchise record in wins, something that seemed a no-brainer considering he had 15 wins at the All-Star break. He had two rough starts to kick off the second half before getting wins 16 and 17 in back-to-back starts against the Pirates and Giants.
The other 17-game winners for the Rockies didn't have such problems down the stretch. Ritz won five games in September, finishing off the season with consecutive victories to get to the magical number. Astacio did the same thing to tie him in 1999. Only Francis had a chance to break 17's vexing hold. He won his last game in his penultimate start of 2007, but lost to the D-backs in his final outing of the year.
The good news is all three of the 17-game winners won at least three games in September. So even if Jimenez can't pick up a victory against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Friday, there's reason for optimism when the calendar turns next week.
Dodgers: Will Manny be Manny somewhere else?
Prior to the Dodgers' Wednesday night game in Milwaukee, a story broke that the Dodgers had placed outfielder Manny Ramirez on waivers. Teams have until Friday to put in a claim for Ramirez. Ramirez didn't play on Thursday, but USA Today reported that he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to head to the White Sox.
If a team claims him, that club would have until Tuesday to work out a deal. The Dodgers could also just give Ramirez to that team, who would then take on his salary. Los Angeles could also pull him off of waivers.
Rockies: Smith getting long audition
Seth Smith, who homered in back-to-back games against the Braves on Tuesday and Wednesday, has seen more playing time in right field after Brad Hawpe was designated for assignment.
Smith is hitting .314 at home and eight of his past 12 hits have gone for extra bases. It hasn't been overwhelmingly positive for the right fielder, as he's gone just 6-for-47 in August, but the Rockies will continue to give him every chance to show he's ready to play daily.
"We feel like we've got a guy who is on the come here in Seth Smith," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Are we 100 percent convinced that it's a 500-600-plate-appearance-a-year type of deal? That's what we're trying to find out. The only way you get that answer is to get him out there between the lines.
"We're trying to give this guy a little bit more. Can he handle it? That's not a decision I'll make. He'll make it. And that's the way you like it if you're a player."
Thanks to their stirring come-from-behind victory against the Braves on Wednesday, the Rockies recorded their first sweep since July 30-Aug 1 (vs. the Cubs) and just the club's second since the break. They are now 14-4-2 in series at Coors Field this year and have the second-best home winning percentage in the National League (41-20, .672) behind the Atlanta Braves.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.