Jimenez, Choo named Players of the Week
Rockies hurler wins NL award; Indians outfielder gets AL honor
Thanks to a monster offensive week by Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and a no-hit gem by Ubaldo Jimenez, the two were named Bank of America's Players of the Week for their respective leagues on Monday.
Jimenez and Choo each received the honor for the first time in their careers.
Jimenez threw the first no-hitter in Rockies history, and the first of the 2010 season, on Saturday night at Turner Field, blanking the Braves despite issuing six walks. The 26-year-old struck out seven, retired the last 12 hitters he faced, and, on his career-high 128th pitch, got Brian McCann to turn a 1-2, up-and-in fastball into a groundout to Clint Barmes that preserved the 264th no-hitter in Major League history.
Thanks in large part to a suggestion by pitching coach Bob Apodaca to throw from the stretch with his pitch count rising early, Jimenez became the fourth Dominican-born pitcher to throw a no-hitter, joining Jose Jimenez (Cardinals, 1999), Ramon Martinez (Dodgers, 1995) and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal (Giants, 1963).
Jimenez, who sported a 3.47 ERA and won 15 games last year, is now 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his first three starts this season.
"Not only I did it. It was the whole team," Jimenez said after the Rockies' 4-0 win. "Every single guy was pulling for me. You can see it in their faces."
They helped a bit, too.
Almost every no-hitter has at least one gem-preserving catch. On Saturday, Dexter Fowler contributed two in one inning. In the seventh, the Atlanta-area native dashed from just right of center to the left-center-field gap and stretched to backhand Troy Glaus' line drive near the warning track. Then, he sprinted toward the infield and snagged Yunel Escobar's sinking line drive.
"It's a great feeling, and I'm really happy to do it for Jimenez," Fowler said after the game. "Anything I can do to help."
Thanks to 11 hits in 19 at-bats through six games last week, Choo -- considered by many to be one of the more underrated players in baseball, going into the season -- is starting to get some recognition.
While the Indians went 4-2, Choo led the Majors with a .579 batting average, 11 RBIs, a 1.211 slugging percentage and a .680 on-base percentage, while his 23 total bases were tied for a big league best. He also added three home runs, five runs scored and three doubles last week.
Many of Choo's biggest hits came in big moments.
In the eighth inning of Thursday's game against the Rangers, the 27-year-old from South Korea hit a three-run homer that carried his club to a 3-2 victory. Two days later, he drove in the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning double that led to an Indians win over the White Sox. Then, in the series finale against Chicago on Sunday, Choo hit his second career grand slam -- and fourth home run of the season -- while driving in five in Cleveland's 7-4 win.
After the game, Indians manager Manny Acta called Choo, who is batting .350 (14-for-40) this season, "a one-man wrecking crew."
The Indians (6-6) have now won four straight, and Choo -- he of a .300 batting average, 20 homers and 86 RBIs in 2009 -- is riding a seven-game hitting streak.
"I feel like I played this way in Spring Training," Choo, said after Sunday's game. "I didn't put pressure on myself [in the spring]. The first three or four games, I put pressure on myself. But I talked to some guys and the hitting coach [Jon Nunnally], and they told me not to worry too much. I'm trying to see the ball and hit the ball."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.