Colon helps own cause by legging out RBI double
Mets righty reaches goal of three hits in 2015, throws seven innings for 8th win
NEW YORK -- The world may always wonder if Bartolo Colon could have reached third.
Colon's third hit of the season was unlike either of the previous two, screaming up the middle in the second inning of the Mets' 4-3 win over the Marlins on Sunday. Because center fielder Ichiro Suzuki was playing so close to home plate and shaded toward right field, the line drive -- which left Colon's bat at 96 mph, as tracked by Statcast™ -- scooted past him and rolled to the wall. (Colon, it should be noted, has not thrown a pitch that fast in over two years).
Yet Colon never appeared to have any intentions of turning his second career extra-base hit into a triple. Instead, he slowed up en route to second base, coasting in with an RBI double.
"No chance," Colon quipped, when asked if he considered a hard turn.
"I wasn't sure [first-base coach] Tom [Goodwin] was going to send him to second," Mets manager Terry Collins said, laughing.
It was nonetheless a notable achievement for Colon, who had zero extra-base hits in his first 132 career plate appearances before notching one last season. He now has two in two years, to go along with a career-high three RBIs in 2015. The last big league pitcher to hit an RBI double at age 42 or older was Randy Johnson on July 12, 2008, at age 44.
And it's only May. This spring, new hitting coach Kevin Long told Colon that he hoped the 42-year-old pitcher would double his offensive output in his second season with the Mets, from two hits to four. Colon shot back that his goal was three, which he has already achieved with four months to go.
That, the Mets insist, is no coincidence. In his second full season in the National League, Colon has worked daily with assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler on his swing. His .032 batting average last year may have been golden currency in the world of internet memes and gifs, but Colon took personal offense to it.
"Nobody likes to be embarrassed at any level, and he knows people are laughing at him when he hits," Collins said of Colon, who is batting .143 this year. "He has taken the offensive side seriously. And hopefully, he keeps it going a little bit."
"It's really important to get hits," said Colon, now 5-0 in his Mets career when he has hit safely. "If we execute in that moment, we'll be able to help the team win more games."
Colon's primary job, of course, remains that of a pitcher, though the Mets never had much concern about his ability to handle that. His seven innings of three-run ball Sunday were enough for Colon's league-leading eighth win of the season, against merely three losses. Colon has now won 22 games over his first season and a third with the Mets, making good on what many saw as a risky two-year, $20 million free-agent contract.
"I think what people don't see is how much of an athlete he is," catcher Anthony Recker said. "He's got his physical appearance, which is less than ideal. But obviously, he knows what he's doing out there. He's done it for a really long time."