Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Bart's at-bats a hit for fans at Citi
By Danny Knobler | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon's starts at Citi Field aren't yet must-see events, even though the 41-year-old right-hander and the five-year-old ballpark look to be something of a perfect match.
Colon's at-bats at Citi? Those might be closer to must-see already.
Colon added another 7 1/3 scoreless innings to his home ledger in the New York Mets' 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday, but nothing he did seemed to get the crowd going more than the three times he came to the plate -- and especially the two times he made contact.
It wasn't that Colon got a hit. Of course he didn't get a hit. He's 0-for-17 as a Met (with 10 strikeouts), and hitless in 37 official plate appearances since a single off the Mets' Mike DeJean on June 10, 2005, at Shea Stadium.
DeJean is long gone. Shea is long gone. And at 41 years old, Colon is still going strong -- at least as a pitcher.
He recorded his 2,000th career strikeout Wednesday, joining CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett as the only active pitchers with that many. He also got his 193rd career win, and his fourth this season (tying Jenrry Mejia for the team lead).
He convinced manager Terry Collins to allow him to throw 121 pitches, the most he'd thrown in a game since 2004, and said afterward that he would have loved to have thrown even more.
"If they kept me in, I'd have kept going," Colon said through an interpreter. "I don't get tired."
Colon has made five career starts at Citi Field, one when he pitched for the Yankees and four with the Mets this season. His ERA for the five starts is 1.89; Wednesday was the third time in five starts that he had allowed one run or none.
"Bartolo's the perfect guy for here," Collins said. "He moves it from side to side, and keeps the ball in the middle of the field."
Collins even suggested that as the season goes on, the Mets could arrange their rotation to get Colon as many Citi starts as possible. His road ERA as a Met is 6.51, although that is skewed by three awful starts in Angel Stadium, Coors Field and Yankee Stadium.
The other thing about starting Colon at home is that it gives the fans a chance to see him at the plate, something they seem to enjoy. Both times he made contact Wednesday, the fans cheered loudly, as Colon ran toward first base, bat in hand.
Why does he always carry his bat to first base?
"I just figure I'll take it myself so the bat boy doesn't have to work," Colon said, smiling.
Bartolo Colon always puts on a show at the plate.
Colon's need for an interpreter has kept many from getting to know his sense of humor, but he does have a good one. Collins said every time Colon is headed to the plate to bat, he leaves the manager with a message.
"One time, he'll say, 'No chance,'" the manager said. "The next time, he'll say, 'I'm not swinging.'"
The thing about Colon is that he always does swing, most often wildly, frequently twisting his body so violently that his helmet comes off.
What he doesn't do, or at least hasn't done in nine seasons in a game that counted, is get a hit. Colon did have a couple of hits for the Mets in spring training, but right now that looks like it was just a tease.
Sort of like what he does in batting practice.
"I just want to see him whack one," Collins said. "He takes BP, he hits balls into the upper deck."
Then the games start, and he usually doesn't hit them at all. The fans don't care. They seem to enjoy his plate appearances regardless.
"I don't enjoy them, because he doesn't get a hit," David Wright said. "As long as he keeps putting up zeroes, he can do what he wants. It's pretty special to watch him work [on the mound]."
d'Arnaud active: After the game, the Mets activated Travis d'Arnaud from the concussion disabled list, and sent Juan Centeno back to Triple-A Las Vegas. d'Arnaud is expected to play Thursday night in Philadelphia.
Winning at 41: The Mets have had quite a few pitchers who were 41 or older, dating back to Warren Spahn in 1965 (when he turned 44). Colon won his first start as a 41-year-old, but he's got a way to go to catch Tom Glavine, who won 13 games for the Mets after turning 41. Orlando Hernandez made five scoreless starts for the Mets after age 41.
Thanks to Mark Simon of ESPN Stats and Info for the research.