Until Friday night, when he pitched a no-hitter and beat Randy Johnson at his best, Jose Jimenez had done little to distinguish himself in the major leagues. With the St. Louis Cardinals' 1-0 victory over Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks, the 25-year-old Dominican right-hander did something memorable.
"I think next start I'll forget what I did," said Jimenez, who struck out eight, walked two and hit a batter.
Fat chance. Jimenez (4-7) pitched the first Cardinals no-hitter in 16 years and the first by a St. Louis rookie since Paul Dean did it in the nightcap of a doubleheader on Sept. 21, 1934. Paul's brother, Dizzy, pitched a three-hitter in the opener, then said afterward, "If I'd known Paul was going to throw a no-hitter, I'd have thrown one too."
Rare is the day that great pitching is the story for the 1999 Cardinals. In fact, pitching, or lack of it, is a big reason the Cardinals aren't contenders, despite a powerful offense centered around Mark McGwire.
The big crowd showed up early Friday to watch McGwire slam a few into the seats in batting practice, then saw an old-fashioned pitching duel as good as any.
With his array of sliders, curves and change-ups and his unflappable cool, Jimenez showed why the Cardinals consider him so important to their future.