Players having surgery. Players going on the disabled list. Players getting hurt. Players coming back from injury.
It was the kind of day that makes your head swim if you’re a Mets fan. But in the middle of the storm, standing on the pitcher’s mound like a well-proportioned beacon of calm, stood Bartolo Colon.
It’s impossible to feel bad when Bartolo is being Bartolo. And Bartolo was plenty Bartolo Thursday night in the Mets’ 6-4 victory over the Pirates at Citi Field.
Colon allowed two runs and struck out eight in 7 2⁄3 superb innings for his sixth victory of the season. He also contributed at the plate (!) and on the bases (!!) to spark the Mets’ offense.
The Mets were leading 1-0 on Curtis Granderson’s leadoff home run in the first when Colon began the third inning with a searing double to the right-centerfield wall. Colon loped into second as the crowd of 33,052 went wild. But he wasn’t done yet.
Granderson followed with a looper to center that fell in front of Andrew McCutchen. Colon deftly waited until the ball fell and then sprinted (!!!) to third ahead of the throw.
Colon did not slide. He did not have to. For he is Bartolo.
One out later, Yoenis Cespedes hit a long sacrifice fly to right to score Colon and give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
“I don’t like to run very much,” Colon said through an interpreter. “But I imagine the fans had fun watching me out there running.”
Manager Terry Collins said, “Anytime you’re entertained, it helps. “And he’s entertaining. We just didn’t want him to blow out running around those bases. When he was headed to third base I was a little concerned there. What did it take him, about five and a half seconds?
“It’s something to watch,” Collins added. “It’s truly amazing.”
Neil Walker, who returned to the lineup after missing three games with a stiff back, followed with a two-run homer off Juan Nicasio (5-6).
Michael Conforto, who hasn’t started since Saturday because of a sore left wrist, hit the next pitch over the fence in right-center for a 5-0 lead. It was the eighth time this season the Mets have gone back-to-back.
“Thank God for Walker and Conforto’s home runs,” Colon said. “That gave me a little bit of a chance to catch my breath and I was able to come back even stronger after that.”
Walker (2-for-4, three RBIs) also contributed a run-scoring double in the fifth to knock out Nicasio. Conforto had two hits and made a diving catch in left to end the first and save a run.
The news wasn’t all good, though. Captain David Wright underwent surgery in Los Angeles to remove a herniated disc in his neck and could be lost for the season. It was an expected step, but it still was an emotional loss for the Mets.
Wright’s replacement, Wilmer Flores, was hit in the hand with a pitch in the second inning and left the game an inning later. Fortunately for the Mets, X-rays were negative.
Also, the Mets placed Juan Lagares on the 15-day disabled list just before game time with a sprained left thumb.
But amidst all the chaos, there was Bartolo.
He didn’t allow a run until Matt Joyce led off the eighth with a home run. After a pair of strikeouts, Sean Rodriguez doubled and came home on a single by Josh Harrison to make it 6-2 and end Colon’s night.
Colon (6-3), who lowered his ERA to 3.01, clapped his hand into his glove as he walked off to a standing ovation. The 43-year-old allowed seven hits and no walks in a 99-pitch effort.
Things got hairy in the ninth when the Pirates scored two more and had the tying run at the plate. But Jeurys Familia got the last three outs after replacing Addison Reed and saved Colon’s 224th career win.
The only thing Colon didn’t do was hit his second career home run. He tried in the sixth, however, as he struck out on a mighty swing.
Maybe next time. For he is Bartolo.
Bartolo Colon joined three Hall of Famers as the only pitchers to homer and double in their age-43 season or later.
Bartolo Colon 2016
Phil Niekro 1982
Warren Spahn 1964
Dazzy Vance 1934
Source: ESPN Stats & Info