Ageless ace Colon twirls gem vs. Bucs, K's nine
Wright, Duda launch homers; 41-year-old notches 2,000th strikeout
NEW YORK -- Wednesday afternoon's rubber match between the Mets and Pirates was Bartolo Colon's first start since turning 41, but after 7 1/3 innings of shutout baseball, it felt like he was still 21.
That number wasn't even the most impressive of the afternoon. In the sixth inning, Colon fanned Ike Davis for the 2,000th strikeout of his career. The fastball-happy veteran tallied a season-high nine, allowing just five hits and one intentional walk on 121 pitches en route to 5-0 Mets victory at Citi Field.
"[I] feel good that I won a game at 41," Colon said through an interpreter. "When you have a game like that, you feel even better afterwards."
Colon punched out at least one Pirates batter in all but one frame, consistently pounding two-seam fastballs that kept Pittsburgh hitters off balance the whole afternoon. It wasn't until surrendering back-to-back singles to Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen in the eighth that manager Terry Collins relieved his starter. Jeurys Familia replaced him to face Davis, and he induced an inning-ending double-play on the first pitch.
Regarding the recently strong and reliable efforts of Familia, Collins hinted that the righty reliever might be in contention for earning the closer's role with Jenrry Mejia.
"Right now, I'll take whatever they give to me," said Familia. "I just try to do my job."
It was a rough game in the field for both teams, which combined for four errors and three wild pitches, as well as some questionable baserunning decisions. But Colon, whose last outing was erased by rain after four innings, never gave in with men on base, flexing his rubber arm into the later innings.
"There's no real pitch count with him," said Collins. "Had he had a couple easier innings early he would have been still in there. The most impressive thing is he hung in there and he pitches his game."
Meanwhile, Colon continued his success in the confines of Citi Field this year. Colon is 2-2 in four starts at home, posting a 2.30 ERA and surrendering just seven runs over 27 1/3 innings.
"I just feel good when I'm at home," said Colon. "Now I've just got to get ready to pitch well on the road as well."
"Bartolo's the perfect guy for here," said Collins. "He goes side to side with the plate, he gets some fly balls, keeps the ball in the middle of the field. This could be a place when we get into the summer where we'll try to make sure he schedules games in this park."
Before the game, it seemed like Collins was ready to concede another poor offensive performance. The Mets' starting lineup consisted of three players hitting below .210, and the humidity that aided a four run outburst Tuesday night had evaporated into sub-60 degree weather.
The offense struggled early, but managed to put three runs across for Colon off Pirates starter Charlie Morton, who was coming off his only win of the year. Morton (1-7) was effective through 5 1/3 innings, but he struggled with his command. Mets batters worked him for 28 pitches in the first inning, and consecutive walks in the sixth forced manager Clint Hurdle to call on Jared Hughes, who later escaped the frame.
"I ran the pitch count up there pretty quickly," said Morton. "You never want to do that."
Morton allowed the Mets' first run in the second inning. He walked Lucas Duda, who jogged to second on a wild pitch and moved to third to on a Ruben Tejada groundout. Duda quickly skipped home after Morton grounded another ball to the backstop while facing Colon with two outs.
Taking advantage of poor throws became a consistent theme for New York. In the third, Daniel Murphy hit a soft grounder to Pedro Alvarez, whose throw to first got past Davis and caromed off the Mets dugout. A good throw to second from Walker -- who was backing up the play -- was wasted when shortstop Jordy Mercer dropped the ball, which trickled into center field, letting Murphy scamper to third. David Wright singled him home three pitches later.
The Mets had their own share of errors in the field, both coming on wild throws by Wright, who redeemed them in the sixth inning with a solo blast to left-center. It was Wright's fourth home run, doubling his total on the season just within the nine-game homestand.
Duda extended New York's lead in the eighth with a two-run homer off righty Bryan Morris, his seventh of the season.
The Mets now embark on a season-long 11 game road trip starting in Philadelphia on Thursday for a five-game series before they head west to Chicago and San Francisco. The Mets hope Citizens Bank Park, and their success on the road, will help maintain their offensive momentum.
"We play pretty good on the road," said Duda. "We're looking forward to it."