Launching Pad: Ubaldo Jimenez goes for majors best 13th win

What to expect in the major leagues today:

Lucky No. 13?

This afternoon’s series finale between the Rockies and Twins at Target Field will feature quite a pitching pairing. Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez, who is 12-1, will match up against Minnesota ace Francisco Liriano, who is 6-3 and hasn’t lost since May 20. Jimenez is coming off his worst start of the season, though rain was a factor in his three-run, five-walk outing against the Blue Jays this past Friday. In that win, his ERA "skyrocketed" from 0.93 to 1.16. Meanwhile, Liriano has delivered back-to-back, double-digit strikeout efforts against the A’s and Braves. The lefthander has a 2.00 ERA in five home starts, compared to a 3.63 ERA in seven road starts.

First-inning follies

Try as he might, Cubs righthander Randy Wells can’t shake his early-game jitters. In 13 starts this season, Wells has an 11.25 ERA in the first inning, despite allowing only one homer in that frame. He has lost his past five decisions overall and hasn’t won since April 30. This afternoon at Wrigley Field, Wells will be opposed by a pitcher who has been nearly as cold. Since throwing his perfect game on May 9, A’s righthander Dallas Braden is 0-4 with a 4.75 ERA in his past six starts. Braden hasn’t started since June 9 because of tennis elbow.

The future is here

Pirates fans have grown accustomed to the team dealing its veteran players prior to the July 31 nonwaiver deadline, but there aren’t many veterans left to part with at this point. In fact, the lineup now is dominated by highly touted young players, many of whom were called up recently. That group includes left fielder Jose Tabata, third baseman Pedro Alvarez and second baseman Neil Walker. The new-look Pirates will wrap up a three-game series with the White Sox at PNC Park tonight.

Chris Bahr is Sporting News’ baseball editor. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

What to expect in the major leagues today:

Lucky No. 13?

This afternoon’s series finale between the Rockies and Twins at Target Field will feature quite a pitching pairing. Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez, who is 12-1, will match up against Minnesota ace Francisco Liriano, who is 6-3 and hasn’t lost since May 20. Jimenez is coming off his worst start of the season, though rain was a factor in his three-run, five-walk outing against the Blue Jays this past Friday. In that win, his ERA "skyrocketed" from 0.93 to 1.16. Meanwhile, Liriano has delivered back-to-back, double-digit strikeout efforts against the A’s and Braves. The lefthander has a 2.00 ERA in five home starts, compared to a 3.63 ERA in seven road starts.

First-inning follies

Try as he might, Cubs righthander Randy Wells can’t shake his early-game jitters. In 13 starts this season, Wells has an 11.25 ERA in the first inning, despite allowing only one homer in that frame. He has lost his past five decisions overall and hasn’t won since April 30. This afternoon at Wrigley Field, Wells will be opposed by a pitcher who has been nearly as cold. Since throwing his perfect game on May 9, A’s righthander Dallas Braden is 0-4 with a 4.75 ERA in his past six starts. Braden hasn’t started since June 9 because of tennis elbow.

The future is here

Pirates fans have grown accustomed to the team dealing its veteran players prior to the July 31 nonwaiver deadline, but there aren’t many veterans left to part with at this point. In fact, the lineup now is dominated by highly touted young players, many of whom were called up recently. That group includes left fielder Jose Tabata, third baseman Pedro Alvarez and second baseman Neil Walker. The new-look Pirates will wrap up a three-game series with the White Sox at PNC Park tonight.

Chris Bahr is Sporting News’ baseball editor. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

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