Roughly two hours before first pitch, Ozzie Guillen discussed Bartolo Colon and jokingly said “Bartolo showed up today.”
It was a comedic reference to when Colon pitched for Guillen in Chicago two years ago and the team could not locate him when he was rehabbing an injury in Arizona.
Colon was quite visible last night, hitting 95 and 96 on several occasions while weaving a diving two-seam and a tailing four-seam fastball past hitters during an impressive eight-inning performance as the Yankees ended their first losing streak with a 3-1 victory.
The subject of Colon came up during an entertaining pregame media session, when Guillen kidded about the right-hander and then complimented his pitching performance by saying the following:
“When I had Bartolo, he never showed up at the ballpark,” Guillen said. “He disappeared for, like, three months. I hope he’s at the ballpark today and you don’t have to look for him in Arizona somewhere.”
That was before Guillen got serious and said Colon knows how to pitch.
And that is a very good thing since Colon is now the most indispensible starting pitcher considering the uncertainty with Phil Hughes. He is not the ace in name as that belongs to CC Sabathia, but he is the ace in terms of statistics, especially from someone signed to a minor league deal and had not pitched well since winning the AL CY Young Award in 2005.
In his first 26 innings in pinstripes, Colon has allowed eight earned runs and 23 hits to go along with 26 strikeouts. More impressive is that 14 of those strikeouts have been called strikes and last night 25 of his strikes were called, including a strike three to Paul Konerko that sent Guillen into a rage and led to him watching the rest of Colon’s outing from the clubhouse television.
“I talked about Bartolo since spring training, that he was the biggest surprise for me on our team,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I had no idea what to expect. I knew what he used to be but he hadn’t pitched distance in a while but as he has shown there has been consistency from day one of spring training.
And for the second time filling in for the ailing Phil Hughes, Colon demonstrated he knew how to pitch by allowing seven hits and throwing 99 pitches of mostly fastballs, (55 four-seam fastballs and 35 two-seam fastballs).
It represented Colon’s longest outing since going eight for the Angels in a 3-2 loss at Seattle in September 2007.
“I’m not really surprised because in Spring Training,” Colon said through a translator. “I threw six innings and the more I pitched, I felt like I could do it.”
“It’s been huge for us,” Girardi said. “Every time he has taken the mound, he has pitched very well and given us a real good chance to win, even in games when he came in long relief and held the other club down for us. So his production has been huge.”
Some of the best strikes thrown by Colon occurred in times of trouble such as the bases loaded none out situation he faced in the second following two singles and a walk. He caught Gordon Beckham looking on a two-seam fastball and then retired Omar Vizquel and Juan Pierre on four-seamers that were clocked at 94 and 96 respectively.
“One thing I remember from my playing days when I faced Bartolo is that if he was still in there in the seventh and eighth inning, his velocity went up,” Girardi said. “It was that way tonight. He seems to have an extra gear.”
Colon also worked efficiently with three innings of less than 10 pitches and no inning with more than 21. He also reached 95 or 96 15 times, including in the seventh when he blew a fastball past Pierre for his sixth and final strikeout.
“It was surprising today,” Colon said. I was throwing late in the game really hard but when I was in the bullpen throwing long toss with the catcher, I felt really strong so I kind of have an idea that I’m going to have a good game.”
Colon was in such a good groove that nobody warmed up for the eighth until the inning began. As Colon took the mound to face Chicago’s 2-3-4 hitters, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain began getting loose but neither was summoned because it took eight more high-velocity fastballs.
“Amazing,” Guillen said. “I can’t remember seeing him like that since he was in Cleveland or with the Angels. I feel proud of him, especially after all the arm issues he’s been through.”
And the Yankees feel honored to have him and confident in his reliability.
Yankee-White Sox Notes:
Phil Hughes spent five more hours getting tested yesterday afternoon and finally has a diagnosis for his dead arm.
After the game, the Yankees announced that he has low level thoracic outlet syndrome, which according to the definition on the Mayo Clinic’s website is a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves in the thoracic outlet – the space between the collarbone and first rib become compressed. The Mayo Clinic’s definition then goes on to say, it can cause shoulder and neck pain as well as numbness in the fingers.
The next step for Hughes will be a consultation with vascular surgeon Dr. Robert William Thompson in St. Louis.
Guillen’s 26th ejection as a manager occurred just 16 pitches in. An ejection is nothing new for Guillen, but what happened afterwards is believed to be a new occurrence when he went on twitter and tweeted twice with the following comments:
“I’m going to get fined a lot of money, this is pathetic.
Today a tough guy show up at Yankee stadium
Guillen does most of the tweeting himself, but it is believed to be the first time he ever tweeted after getting ejected.
Mark Teixeira left the game in the eighth with shoulder soreness that originally occurred making a dive for a ground ball Tuesday. It was aggravated with another dive last night and Teixeira did not want to risk it by taking any more swings.