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With history on line, bats can't pick up Colon

Veteran throws 8-inning complete game, but Rangers blanked after Choo's leadoff homer
MLB.com

DETROIT -- With history on the line, Bartolo Colon delivered in his start for the Rangers on Friday night against the Tigers at Comerica Park with one of his best outings of the season. The offense, however, sputtered after a promising start, as Texas dropped a 3-1 decision in the second installment of this four-game series.

Colon was going for his 246th win career win, which would make him the winningest MLB pitcher from Latin America. The 45-year-old threw an eight-inning complete game, giving up five hits and issuing no walks. Eight innings marked a season high for Colon, and it was the 10th start in which he allowed fewer than four runs.

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DETROIT -- With history on the line, Bartolo Colon delivered in his start for the Rangers on Friday night against the Tigers at Comerica Park with one of his best outings of the season. The offense, however, sputtered after a promising start, as Texas dropped a 3-1 decision in the second installment of this four-game series.

Colon was going for his 246th win career win, which would make him the winningest MLB pitcher from Latin America. The 45-year-old threw an eight-inning complete game, giving up five hits and issuing no walks. Eight innings marked a season high for Colon, and it was the 10th start in which he allowed fewer than four runs.

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"I don't know why, but after the fourth inning I felt stronger," Colon said through an interpreter. "I was pitching better than in the beginning."

The beginning Colon referenced included one of his two mistakes on the evening, a two-run blast off the bat of James McCann in the second inning to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. But for as quiet as the Rangers' bats were, the Tigers' didn't fare much better. After that home run, Detroit was limited to just two hits until the eighth inning. That's when, with two outs, JaCoby Jones hit a home run to left-center field to extend the Tigers' lead to 3-1.

Three runs over eight innings isn't a death sentence for any team, and especially not the Rangers, who rank in the top half of the Majors in home runs. All seemed to be in order for Colon to secure his place in history when Shin-Soo Choo hit a leadoff home run on the second pitch of the game, extending his on-base streak to 45 games, the longest in the Majors this season. But it was radio silence after that, as the Rangers struggled up and down the order against Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann.

Video: TEX@DET: Choo extends on-base streak with leadoff HR

"Zimmermann was on his 'A' game today," manager Jeff Banister said. "Especially with how he split the plate with both his fastball and his slider. It was probably his slider that made the difference tonight. It's a plus-plus pitch for him."

Ryan Rua, who was inserted into the lineup when Joey Gallo injured his left eye in a collision during batting practice, shared what it was about Zimmermann's slider that made it an effective pitch.

"He has the same arm speed, same arm action," Rua said. "It comes out like a fastball and just dives away. He's living with the fastball away and spotting it up, so it looks like the same pitch, and then it breaks out of the zone."

Like Colon, Zimmermann also went eight innings. The Rangers managed only five hits in the game to go with 12 strikeouts -- 11 of which were delivered by Zimmermann.

More than getting shut down like that, and even more than losing a fourth game in their last five outings, the Rangers' offense wasn't there for Colon on a night when he looked deserving of a better fate.

"These guys, they know what's at stake for Bart," Banister said. "They go out with the intent to find a way to win a baseball game for him. They know the importance of it, the impact of it."

SOUND SMART
Colon became only the second Major League pitcher to give up a home run to 300 different players. He is near the top of the Majors now with 22 home runs allowed this season.

Explained Banister: "The hitters know he's going to throw strikes. I think part of that is that he doesn't throw 95, 96 anymore. The mistakes that do get hit, they have the high velocity and they're elevated. I think that's more the case than anything else."

Added Colon: "Never in my life have I been bothered by a home run. I'm bothered most when I give up a walk."

HE SAID IT
"That old man took me to school. He's just deceptive. He took advantage of my aggressiveness." -- Tigers slugger Nicholas Castellanos, on Colon

UP NEXT
The Rangers head back to Comerica Park on Saturday to face the Tigers with a 3:10 p.m CT first pitch. Cole Hamels (4-7, 4.05 ERA), a frequent subject of trade talk, will be on the mound for the Rangers. Hamels gave up a season-high seven runs in his last start against the White Sox. The Tigers will go with Mike Fiers (5-5, 3.79 ERA), who has allowed only two runs over his last two starts.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Texas Rangers, Shin-Soo Choo, Bartolo Colon