The last time Bartolo Colon started a major league game was 635 days ago . . . July 24, 2009. On that date, Phil Hughes still had a 94 mph fastball, Derek Jeter was hitting .320/.396/.451 and Joba Chamberlain started that night’s game, throwing 7+ innings of two-hit ball.
Much has transpired within the Yanks starting pitching ranks since then, and retirement/injury/inefficiency thrust the well-traveled (and fed) Colon into the starting rotation for tonight’s matchup against the Blue Jays, and their own “Hefty B.C.”, 6’1″ 235-pound Brett Cecil. Cecil started five games against the Bombers in 2010 and went 4-0. But he had been dealing with his own Hughesque decline in velocity and it continued in this game.
The Yanks eschewed their usual smashmouth offense for much of the game, jumping out to a 5-1 lead after six innings, with four of the runs scoring on either sacrifice flies or groundouts. Meanwhile, Colon turned the clock back to his Cy Young form of 2005, flashing a fastball at 93 or 94 and mixing in lots of late-breaking off-speed stuff. His only mistake was a hanging slider that J.P. Arencibia parked in the left field stands leading off the second. Through the first six innings, Colon allowed only two flyballs and two other hits (both singles).
Colon started to tire in the seventh, and the Jays were poised for a huge inning. With one out, Juan Encanarcion doubled to right and Arencibia followed with a walk. Travis Snider then singled sharply to right, and Nick Swisher charged the ball and threw a strike to cutoff man Mark Teixeira, holding Encanarcion at third. The only problem for the Jays was that Arencibia never stopped running, rounding second too far with his head down, and he also ended up on third. Teixeira ran over and tagged anyone with a Blue Jay uni on, and suddenly it was two outs and men on the corners rather than one out and bases loaded.
That was Colon’s 89th and final pitch (56 of them for strikes). David Robertson came in and Jayson Nix battled him for eight pitches before driving an RBI single to center to cut it to 5-2. Robertson held the fort there as he got John McDonald swinging.
In the 9th, Curtis Granderson greeted Frank Francisco, making his 2011 (and Blue Jay) debut, by slamming the first pitch over the RF wall for a 6-2 margin. With Mariano Rivera needing a day off, and a four-run lead, Joe Girardi summoned Lance Pendleton to close it out. Pendleton walked two of the three batters to face him, and Rafael Soriano had to put out the mess. He managed to do that despite walking the bases loaded.
Final: 6-2 Yanks
Notes: Teixeira had three doubles, to three different parts of the park. Derek Jeter went 0-5 with one of the RBI groundouts, but four ABs ended with the ball in the infield.