I didn’t grow up a Cardinals fan. I have tremendous respect for the franchise, I love being in St. Louis, and going to a Cards game is always fun. But due to lack of exposure, I remain sadly ignorant of much of Cardinals history. As a passionate and experienced baseball fan, I know that lack of intimate knowledge of franchise history diminishes my ability to give you, the readers, the best content you deserve. So consider this my mental exercise to learn as much as I can about the Cardinals. Every day, (or as often as I can), I’m going to post a little bit of information about This Date in Cardinals History. I’m excited to learn a lot and pass on what I find to you guys.
June 25th, 1999
Wow, I picked a great day to start with. On this date in 1999, Cardinals rookie Jose Jimenez threw a no-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks for a 1-0 win at Bank One Ballpark. He walked two, struck out eight, and threw just 101 pitches. It was the first complete game and shutout of his career, and what made the feat even more impressive is that entering the day through his first 14 starts of the season, he had an ERA of 6.69. But why was the score on the Cardinal’s end so low, you may be asking now that I’ve brought it up? The opposing pitcher that day was Randy Johnson. It was the eighth no-hitter in Cardinals history, and the first since Bob Forsch’s second career no-no in 1983. There’s been one since, Bud Smith against the Padres in 2001. Since then, no Cardinals pitcher has thrown a no-hitter, but the Cards were no-hit once in 2012 by Johan Santana of the New York Mets.
Interestingly, Jimenez happened to own the D-Backs that year. Two starts after his no-hitter, he threw another shutout against Randy Johnson at Busch Stadium. A two-hitter that time, with nine K’s and only one walk.
The next year, Jimenez was with the Rockies, and he was done in Major League Baseball by 2005. Despite a 4.92 career ERA, Jimenez holds some personal accolades, including the no-hitter and the Colorado Rockies single season saves record, set in 2002 (it’s 41 saves). I also want you be aware that Jimenez pitched from 1998-2004, seven seasons which were the heart of the steroid era. His 4.92 ERA translated to a 100 ERA +, or precisely league average. For perspective on how much the game has changed, Jake Peavy has the closest ERA to that this year, coming into the day at 4.93. His ERA+ is 81. That means the league ERA is 19% lower than Peavy’s. Pitching, at least in terms of ERA, is roughly twenty percent better now than it was back then. Which, I guess, makes the no-hitter even MORE impressive.