PHOENIX – Their bats made all kinds of noise on opening day, but the telling sound effect of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night against Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez came during Miguel Montero’s at-bat in the sixth inning.
That was the sound of 96- and 97-mph fastballs whizzing past Montero’s belated swings on a night when Jimenez was close to untouchable in beating the Diamondbacks 3-0 in front of announced crowd of 26,637 at Chase Field.
The flame-throwing right-hander fired seven shutout innings to outduel Diamondbacks starter Dan Haren and even the series at a game apiece, heading into this afternoon’s rubber match.
“The guy’s got a pretty good arm,” Montero said. “He was able to throw strikes today, and that was a key for him. He gets wild sometimes, but today he was throwing a lot of strikes and was working ahead in the count.”
As good as Jimenez was, Haren nearly matched him, inning for inning, zero for zero, except for one pitch, a curveball in the fifth inning that Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki deposited into the left-field stands for a solo home run.
“(Jimenez) was just a little better than me today,” Haren said. “Not too much to hang my head about. I’ve got 33 starts left, and if I do what I did today, I’ll win a lot of ballgames.”
A day after clubbing five home runs in the opener, the Diamondbacks were left searching for big hits – or hits of any kind.
Their best opportunity came in the second inning. After loading the bases with one out, Haren, a decent-hitting pitcher, swung at an 0-1 fastball and sent a ground ball to second base for an easy, inning-ending double play.
“It had a little sink on it, and I couldn’t get under the ball,” Haren said. “I hit it into the ground. Obviously, not what I wanted in that situation.”
It wasn’t until the sixth that another Diamondbacks base runner reached as far as second, but Jimenez again worked out of it.
After a one-out double by Stephen Drew, Jimenez got Chad Tracy to pop out and walked Conor Jackson, bringing up Montero.
Jimenez fell behind 3-1. Thinking back to an at-bat from two years ago when Montero took him deep to the opposite field, Jimenez went with a different approach. He went inside with his fastball, and Montero took a huge swing and missed, running the count full.
“He swung out of his shoes,” Jimenez said. “After that, I knew I was going even further back inside.”
Montero again took a huge hack and came up empty for the third strike.
“I think I tried to overswing too much,” Montero said. “When a guy’s throwing so hard, I just have to put the barrel on it and let them provide the power.”
Webb’s shoulder much better
For those worried about Brandon Webb and the shoulder stiffness he experienced before and during the fourth inning on opening day, the Diamondbacks ace eased those concerns Tuesday.
“Nope,” he said when asked if he felt any stiffness while playing catch before batting practice Tuesday. “It’s great.”
And so Webb is in line to make his scheduled start Saturday against the Dodgers at Chase Field.
Webb said his shoulder was a little tight as he was warming up Monday but that it felt good during the first three innings. His fastball in those innings reached his customary 87- to 89-mph range.
But in the fourth, his velocity dropped to 83-85 mph, and Colorado’s Tulowitzki and Chris Iannetta connected for back-to-back home runs in a span of three pitches.
Webb allowed six runs in four innings, throwing 77 pitches.