Perhaps Mets righthander Bartolo Colon knew he was in for a good night right away when longtime tormentor Alex Rod riguez was left out of the Yankees’ starting lineup.
“I was surprised not to see him,” Colon said through a translator, “because we all know he’s always hit well against me. I mean, I say that’s my dad.”
But while time has caught up to A-Rod, it has yet to reach Colon, who picked up the victory Thursday night as the Mets beat the Yankees, 4-1, to ensure a split in the Subway Series.
Rodriguez, 41, is a lifetime .442 hitter with eight homers against Colon, 43. But with A-Rod seemingly days from being pushed out the door by the Yankees, Colon has only grown in importance for the Mets.
The Mets brought back Colon expecting that by now, he would be pitching out of the bullpen, the odd man out of a young mega-rotation. But injuries again have thrust him into the spotlight.
“I didn’t see myself being a starter at this point,” said Colon, who held the Yankees to one run in 6 2⁄3 innings. “I think just from conversations we’ve had, I saw myself in the bullpen at this point of the season. But thank God, I’ve had that opportunity and I’ve been able to continue being a starter.”
Despite all of their issues, the Mets have closed to within one game of the final wild-card spot in the National League, and part of the reason is Colon.
“Everything has changed now,” manager Terry Collins said. “Not only is he in the rotation, he is a big, big piece of our rotation. He goes out and you expect a good game out of him right now.”
It was in a Yankees uniform in 2011 that Colon began his second act, one that arguably has eclipsed his first. It was on this mound that he began the transition from a broken-down old pitcher into a walking slice of human folklore. It was on this field where he turned himself into a wily, strike-throwing machine.
So it was only appropriate that at Yankee Stadium, Colon cut himself a place in New York baseball history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became the first pitcher in Subway Series history to record a win as a member of both clubs.
“I thought tonight, he had maybe his best stuff all year,” Collins said. “He had velocity throughout the game. You saw a lot of 91s up there. He located tonight. He used his slider a lot more.”