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On This Date in Sports June 25, 1999: Standing Above the Unit

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Entering the game with a 6.69 ERA, Jose Jimenez of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches a no-hitter and wins an unlikely pitcher’s duel against Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 at Bankone Ballpark. Jimenez allows just two walks while posting eight strikeouts as Thomas Howard singles home Darren Bragg with the game’s only run in the ninth inning.

Born July 7, 1973; Jose Jimenez made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals on September 9, 1998. Making four appearances, Jimenez went 3-0 at the end of the 1998 season, earning a chance to start in 1999. However, when the season started, Jimenez struggled losing seven straight decisions, as he held a record of 3-7, with a record of 6.69 as June was nearing its end.

On paper, it was as big a mismatch as you could get in baseball. A struggling rookie against one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Arizona Diamondbacks had signed Randy Johnson in the off-season and went from expansion team to contenders in one season. Johnson was off to a 9-3 start on the way to a Cy Young season with Arizona as he took the mound that day against the Cardinals. The Cardinals were 35-37 under Tony LaRussa while the Diamondbacks were 42-31 with Buck Showalter running the show.

Both pitchers were dominant that Friday Night, Randy Johnson went through the Arizona lineup with easy in the first three innings, while Steve Finley walked and was erased on a double play in the second. Andy Fox meanwhile was hit by a pitch in the third. Joe McEwing led off the fourth with a double to be the first base runner for St. Louis. However, Johnson got the next three batters. Jose Jimenez hit his stride in the middle innings, as he did not allow a base runner. Edgar Renteria doubled in the fifth but was doubled off second on a line drive by Alberto Castillo. David Howard doubled to lead off the sixth, but Randy Johnson would strike out the next three batters to keep the game scoreless.

In the seventh inning, Jose Jimenez walked Luis Gonzalez with one out but was erased when Matt Williams hit into a 3-6-1 double play. Into the ninth inning, Randy Johnson allowed four hits and had 12 strikeouts, while Jimenez had a no-hitter, with seven strikeouts. After striking out McEwing to start the inning, Johnson walked Darren Bragg and Mark McGwire. Eric Davis struck out for the second out, while Thomas Howard drove in the game’s first run with a single to right as McGwire was thrown out at third to end the inning.

With history within his grasp, Jose Jimenez struck out Andy Fox to start the ninth. David Dellucci flew out to right for the second out, pinch-hitting for Johnson. Tony Womack came up as Arizona’s last hope and ground to Joe McEwing at second to end the game.

Two starts later, Jose Jimenez and Randy Johnson met again at Busch Stadium. The score would be the same, as Jimenez won 1-0 allowing just two hits. It would be the only two shutouts of Jose Jimenez career as he last played seven seasons in the majors, posting a record of 24-44 with a career ERA of 4.92.