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The Closer: Jimenez outduels Cy winner

1/28/2011

Tim Lincecum and Ubaldo Jimenez -- last year's NL Cy Young winner and this year's favorite -- squared off in San Francisco on Monday in a matchup of teams separated by just a half-game in the NL West. They both turned in buzzworthy performances -- for different reasons -- and another old pro keeps getting better.

Why Rockies Starter Ubaldo Jimenez Threw a Shutout:
- Used splitter as out pitch: Jimenez threw 13 splitters, 11 of which were with two strikes. Giants hitters swung at seven of them (four missed, three fouled), putting none in play (MLB avg 33 pct). Jimenez had four strikeouts on his splitter, matching a season-high.
- Got ahead of hitters: 12 of the 14 0-1 pitches not put in play were strikes (86 pct, MLB avg 47 pct).
- Kept the ball down: 77 of 128 pitches came in the lower third of the strike zone (60.2 pct, MLB avg 47.5 pct). Seven of his nine swings-and-misses came down in the zone.

Why Yankees starter Andy Pettitte won:
- Went with great slider and changeup: 30 pct of his pitches (2nd most in a start this season) including 10 changeups (most in a single start)
- Hitters were 0-for-9, got 7 of 8 swinging strikes and 4 of 5 K's with his slider and changeup (.175 BA vs two pitches entering Monday)
- Miss pct vs slider and changeup was 46.7 pct (4.2 pct with his other pitches)
- His 8 swings and misses was his 2nd best in a start this season and his 5 K's was his most in his last 6 starts

Why Angels starter Ervin Santana won:
- Santana has won his last four starts and lowered his ERA almost a full run, from 4.40 to 3.43. He's done it by getting ahead of hitters, who are then chasing more pitches out of the zone -- particularly his slider.

ERVIN "MAGIC" SANTANA

Ervin Santana in 2010

Tim Lincecum was 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA after his first eight starts this season and the Giants were 7-1 when he took the mound. It's been a different story the last two weeks, as San Fran has dropped each of his last three outings with Lincecum getting the loss the last two times out. He is giving up hits and HR at nearly the same rates and facing almost the same number of batters in each game. His miss and strike percentages are only down slightly, but that is more a result of him throwing less pitches that are in the strike zone.

WALK THIS WAY

Reigning NL Cy Young Winner Tim Lincecum this season

Lincecum has allowed 14 ER in his last 3 starts, after allowing only 11 in his first 8, bringing his ERA up nearly a run-and-a-half to 3.14.

HITTER OF THE NIGHT

Alex Rodriguez: 3-4, 2B, GS, 6 RBI

Alex Rodriguez hit his 20th career grand slam on Monday -- after an intentional walk to Mark Teixeira. A-Rod had hit six home runs this season -- ALL of them off of fastballs -- and that's what he got with the bases loaded. Amazingly, four of the five pitches in that AB, and 12 of the 19 he saw on the day, were fastballs. Rodriguez didn't chase ANY of them and the only two he swung at went for hits.

HITTER OF THE NIGHT

Alex Rodriguez by pitch type this season