(Sports Network) - Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has rightfully received plenty of attention for his sensational beginning to the 2010 season. Teammate Jason Hammel has quietly put together a remarkable run of his own lately, however.
Hammel will try to maintain his excellent recent form and pitch his club to a three-game sweep of the previously-rolling Boston Red Sox when the teams square off again this evening at Coors Field.
Hammel enters tonight's finale having won three consecutive starts and did not surrender a run in any of those outings. Since returning from a brief stint on the disabled list in mid-May, the right-hander has compiled a 5-1 record and a stellar 2.05 earned run average in seven starts and has pitched into the seventh inning six times during that span.
After firing 7 1/3 scoreless innings to defeat Houston on June 7, Hammel yielded just three hits in eight shutout frames during a 1-0 verdict over Toronto five days later before delivering another gem this past Friday. He scattered eight hits and a pair of walks in 7 1/3 innings against Milwaukee to extend his current scoreless streak to 25 consecutive frames.
All three of those victories took place at Coors Field, where Hammel has gone an impressive 5-1 with a 2.80 ERA in seven starts this season.
Hammel will attempt to keep up his outstanding stretch as he goes in search of a first career win over the Red Sox. The former Tampa Bay hurler is 0-2 with a 5.50 ERA in eight lifetime appearances (two starts) against Boston, all of which took place during his tenure with the Rays.
Jimenez took the mound last night with a sensational 13-1 record and 1.15 ERA in 14 starts, but the hard-throwing right-hander wasn't at his best in Wednesday's middle test of this series. The Rockies were able to overcome his subpar start, however, with a furious ninth-inning rally that resulted in an 8-6 victory.
Down 6-5 entering the bottom of the ninth, Ian Stewart tied the score with a leadoff home run off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon (2-4). Clint Barmes followed with a single up the middle and two batters later, pinch-hitter Jason Giambi belted a Papelbon pitch over the right-field wall for a game-winning two-run homer.
"I just got a pitch that [Papelbon] made a mistake on, and I got the bat head to it," Giambi said. "He's an incredible closer. To get a pitch, get a mistake -- you're not going to get it very often -- and I was lucky to put the bat head on the ball."
Miguel Olivo had a two-run homer earlier in the game for Colorado, while Barmes went 2-for-4 with two runs scored to help the Rockies win for the fifth time in six games.
The comeback took Jimenez off the hook for a potential loss after he allowed a season-high six runs on 10 hits in just 5 2/3 innings of work.
Boston trailed 5-2 after five innings before scoring four times and chasing Jimenez in the sixth, with Darnell McDonald's two-run homer off the Colorado ace tying the score at 5-5. Daniel Nava had a run-scoring double earlier in the frame as part of a 2-for-3, three-RBI night.
The Red Sox had won a season-high six straight games before Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Rockies and now trail the rival New York Yankees by 2 1/2 games for first place in the American League East.
Boston sends out Daisuke Matsuzaka tonight for the Japanese star's first start since June 7. The oft-injured right-hander has spent the past two-plus weeks on the disabled list with a right forearm strain, but was pronounced fit to go after throwing 49 pitches without incident in a simulated game last Saturday.
Matsuzaka also sat out the season's first month with a strained neck. In eight starts in between his two stops on the DL, he's posted a 5-2 record with a 4.59 ERA.
The 29-year-old had been pitching well prior to his latest ailment. Matsuzaka fired eight shutout innings of four-hit ball to defeat Cleveland just before being shelved and held Oakland to three runs while fanning seven over 6 2/3 innings to nail down another win back on June 2.
This will be Matsuzaka's first regular-season meeting with the Rockies, but he bested Colorado at Coors Field in Game 3 of the 2007 World Series, permitting two runs and fanning five through 5 1/3 innings to help Boston to a sweep of that year's Fall Classic.
Colorado has dominated this series during the regular season as of late, however. Wednesday's win was the Rockies' sixth in their last eight non- playoff meetings with the Red Sox, who lost two of three matchups at Coors Field in their last visit there in 2004.