Colon Comes Up Aces As Yankees Bounce Back
NEW YORK (AP) — Turns out, Bartolo Colon is hardly washed up. Just look at the way he wiped out the White Sox.
Colon looked like the ace of old, shutting down Chicago over eight crisp innings, and Robinson Cano hit an early three-run homer to give the New York Yankees a 3-1 victory Wednesday night.
A pleasant surprise for the Yankees thus far, Colon (2-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam with nobody out and outpitched Mark Buehrle, giving him two wins in two starts this season — his first in the majors since 2009.
“It’s the best I’ve ever seen him throw,” Buehrle said. “He’s always got that movement, but velocity-wise and the pitches he was throwing, they were pretty much unhittable pitches.”
The husky right-hander, who won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award for the Angels, signed a minor league deal in February and was brought to spring training to provide pitching depth. He had a strong camp and made the team as a long reliever, but has quickly become an April savior for a New York rotation missing injured All-Star Phil Hughes.
“He continues to impress us,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I had no idea what to expect. I knew what he used to be, but he hadn’t pitched for distance for a while.”
The 37-year-old Colon, who beat Toronto 6-2 last Wednesday, flashed an overpowering fastball that had been missing for years as he struggled to overcome injuries. Hitting 94-95 mph on the stadium radar gun, he struck out six and walked one against his former team.
Colon allowed seven hits, including Adam Dunn’s RBI single in the sixth, and threw 65 of his 99 pitches for strikes in a game that took just 2 hours, 11 minutes. The last time he went eight innings was Sept. 22, 2007, with the Angels against Seattle in a 3-2 loss.
“It surprised me late in the game that I was throwing hard,” Colon said through a translator.
Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth for his eighth save after blowing his previous two chances. Chicago, which has lost 11 of 14, has scored three runs or fewer in 12 of the past 13 games.
Buehrle (1-3) pitched well but failed in his fifth attempt at career win No. 150. The left-hander gave up six hits in seven innings, dropping to 1-8 with a 6.38 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
“I’ve seen and heard enough about how bad I pitch against these guys,” he said. “Especially against a lineup like this, go out there and throw a quality start, I’ll take it every time.”
Before the game, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen joked that he was surprised to learn Colon had showed up at the ballpark — a reference to Colon’s injury-plagued 2009 stint with the White Sox during which he was away from the team for long stretches and sometimes hard to find, Guillen said.
Guillen wasn’t around to see most of Colon’s impressive outing — the outspoken manager was ejected in the first inning by plate umpire Todd Tichenor for arguing a called third strike against slugger Paul Konerko. Guillen immediately took to Twitter during the game, calling the ejection pathetic and saying it would cost him a pricey fine.
“I said, `Don’t let those guys intimidate you,”‘ Guillen said. “He got the right to kick me out because when I went out, when he could hear what I had to say, he had to kick me out of the game.”
It was Guillen’s 26th career ejection and first this season.
Buehrle walked leadoff batter Derek Jeter on four pitches in the first and Alex Rodriguez blooped a two-out single that put runners at the corners.
Cano lined a 1-1 pitch into the right-field stands — not far from where late substitute Brent Lillibridge made two dazzling catches in a row Tuesday night to rob the Yankees of a ninth-inning comeback in a 3-2 loss.
Cano has homered in two straight and four of his last five home games.
“I’ve been working on staying back. I’ve been jumping too much and getting caught in between,” he said.
Colon wriggled out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the second. He gave up three straight one-out singles in the sixth and feigned firing his glove away when Dunn’s base hit went through the box and into center field. But he recovered by getting Alex Rios on a flyball and throwing a called third strike past A.J. Pierzynski.
“Colon was amazing,” Guillen said. “I had a good opportunity to watch the game (on) TV. It was amazing how that ball had a lot of movement.”
NOTES: Girardi said a battery of tests revealed that Hughes has a low-level risk of thoracic outlet syndrome, a circulatory problem. The team will send him to St. Louis to see a specialist, Dr. William Thompson. … New York 1B Mark Teixeira was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth. He has a sore right shoulder but hopes to play Thursday night. … Colon hit Carlos Quentin with a pitch in the third, the seventh time Quentin has been plunked this season. No other major league player had more than four going into Wednesday. … The victory made Girardi the ninth manager to reach 300 regular-season wins with the Yankees. He is 300-207 since taking over before the 2008 season.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)