Milestone Met: Colon cruises to 200th win
In gem, veteran righty only third to reach plateau in Mets uniform
PHILADELPHIA -- The game has changed. The days of 300-game winners are plausibly over, making 200 the new 300. On Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, Bartolo Colon reached what modern-day baseball has rendered as one of the most sought-after plateaus for pitchers.
Colon's 200th victory was a gem. He twirled eight innings of one-run ball against the Phillies in the Mets' 5-4 win. He allowed six hits while posting a 6-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Colon became the third pitcher to win his 200th in a Mets uniform, joining Orel Hershiser (1999) and Pedro Martinez (2006). The Dominican righty is one of 115 Major Leaguers to cross the threshold, and only two other active pitchers -- Tim Hudson (213) and CC Sabathia (208) -- are in the club.
Colon defied what it means to be 40 years old with a 2.65 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 190 1/3 innings for Oakland last season, and the Mets have gotten their money's worth in 2014. The 41-year-old notched his 11th win and lowered his ERA to 3.97, but Friday night also represented a big start for Colon, having given up six runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Giants in his previous outing Sunday.
"I feel like last time, just leaving balls over the middle of the plate and they got hit," catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. "Today he was hitting his spots. He was pitching to contact. I mean balls were getting hit, but they were getting hit off the end of the bat or getting jammed. He pitched really well today."
Colon's only blemish came in the seventh, when he served up a hanging slider to Marlon Byrd, who hit it 350 feet down the left-field line for the Phillies' first run.
In the fourth, the Mets kept the line moving against Phillies righty A.J. Burnett. d'Arnaud and Kirk Nieuwenhuis set the table with consecutive singles to begin the inning. Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy followed with RBI hits to make it 4-0.
d'Arnaud padded New York's lead with a solo shot -- his eighth homer -- in the fifth.
But Colon was kept on the edge of his seat as he watched the ninth. Dana Eveland struggled, allowing the only two batters he faced to reach.
"No save situation to start the inning," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "As well as Dana's been pitching, I thought this is the perfect situation. Let him face those two and then I'll go to [Jenrry] Mejia. Unfortunately, both got on."
Now a save situation, Mejia entered and promptly gave up a single to Byrd to load the bases before surrendering a two-run double to Grady Sizemore, which hit two-thirds of the way up on the right-field wall to make it 5-3.
In the next at-bat, Carlos Ruiz poked a soft liner to right field. Granderson got a good read and went for it.
"It saved us," Collins said about Granderson's diving catch. "No doubt about it."
Mejia allowed one more run to score before getting Reid Brignac looking to end the game with the potential tying run on third.
"I was watching the game on TV," Colon said through a translator. "Sizemore almost home run, I was praying for the ball to stay in the ballpark. I thank Mejia for doing his job and hold his composure on the mound and close the game."
The first three hitters to face Mejia were hacking away on the first pitch. Mejia adjusted accordingly.
"He realized he was just laying it in there for strike one," Collins said. "He got them out when he had to."
Mejia said the right calf tightness that has been bothering him recently felt the same Friday night, but it hasn't been too overwhelming to the point where he's not able to fight through it.
"I knew that it was tight, but I told Terry, 'If I feel ready to pitch, I'm going to pitch,'" Mejia said. "I don't care about pain."
"A great job by Jennry," Collins said. "When he came back today and found out there was nothing wrong with his leg, he just kind of felt a lot better about it. So we thought we'd get him in there tonight."
It was Mejia's 17th save, but he was just relieved that he ensured his countryman's 200th win.