(AP) — Ubaldo Jimenez is on the cusp of setting a franchise mark for wins in a season. Victories have been hard for his team to come by when it has visited the New York Mets.
The Colorado Rockies ace looks to become the club’s first 18-game winner in the opener of a three-game set against the sputtering Mets on Tuesday night.
Jimenez (17-2, 2.61 ERA) has tied Jeff Francis (2007), Pedro Astacio (1999) and Kevin Ritz (1996) for the franchise record for wins. The right-hander has the most victories in the majors and is among the leaders in ERA.
“It’s not easy to win 17 games here. I really take pride in what I’ve been able to accomplish,” Jimenez said. “I’m honored to be on that list.”
He put himself in position to gain sole possession of the record by winning his last two starts with a 1.29 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 14 innings. That’s a vast improvement from his six starts before that, when he posted a 7.64 ERA.
The Rockies (58-53) could use another dominant effort from Jimenez as they try to overcome a daunting history in Queens. Colorado has gone 3-21 in its last 24 games on the Mets’ home field and dropped three of four in its only series at Citi Field from July 27-30.
The Rockies have hit .214 during that 24-game span, getting shut out nine times. They will be facing a Mets team that is 33-19 at home.
Jimenez, though, turned in quality starts in his two road outings against New York, going 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA. He could also benefit from a red-hot Rockies lineup.
Colorado has batted .320 with 14 homers in winning seven of 10, a surge that continued with an 8-4 victory at Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Rockies collected 14 hits, half of them doubles.
Carlos Gonzalez, 4 for 5 with a double, a homer and three RBIs on Sunday, has been a major force in the offensive outburst. The center fielder has hit .500 with eight homers and 15 RBIs over the last 11 games.
In his first full season in the majors, Gonzalez is among the NL leaders with a .327 average, 25 homers and 77 RBIs.
“I don’t know what to say about what we’re seeing and the development of this player,” manager Jim Tracy said.
Gonzalez and his teammates will face a Mets team that has lost 19 of 27 and is sending a struggling Mike Pelfrey (10-6, 4.16) to the mound. The right-hander is battling arm speed problems and has gone 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in his last seven starts.
He labored again Wednesday, allowing five runs and two homers in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-3 loss at Atlanta.
“I could feel it sometimes, that I was slowing down on offspeed pitches,” Pelfrey told the team’s official website. “They just tried to emphasize again how important it is to keep the same arm speed on all your pitches.”
Pelfrey might be facing the right team as he looks to get on track. He threw 14 1-3 scoreless innings in winning his last two home starts against the Rockies.
The Mets (55-56) need more out of Carlos Beltran, who has a .195 average, one homer and seven RBIs since coming off the disabled list last month. The center fielder went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts as New York fell 6-5 at Philadelphia on Sunday.
“I think he is trying to find his way,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “I believe he’s going to figure it out, I really do.”
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