No matter how much heat this month might put on the Mets, they always can gain perspective from the pitcher who looks as if he is out there merely having a game of catch. Everything Bartolo Colon does on the field gives the confident impression of someone saying, “No sweat.”
Granted, the lowly Twins are not likely to strike fear in a ballclub, but a pennant race can.
So it was important that Colon set and maintained a tone in a 3-0 win Friday night at Citi Field, working seven innings and incurring only one jam, a two-out, bases-loaded situation in the third. No problem. He got out of it.
The same after an error by Yoenis Cespedes an inning later. Colon made sure to greet him at the dugout steps with encouragement.
All told, Colon provided a calming effect on his team and a numbing one on the opposition.
“I’m a veteran,” the 43-year-old said through a translator. “It’s a game, and I’m happy to be out there.”
Everyone on the Mets is happy when he’s out there, and, from the sound of it, so were the 33,338 fans. He always finds an extra way to entertain, such as the stellar play he made on Jorge Polanco’s wicked grounder back to him in the first inning. He smoothly turned it into a double play.
“That’s a routine play. I always do that,” Colon said, unable to stifle a laugh.
Terry Collins said, “He’s comfortable doing what he does. He’s an amazing guy. That double play he turned, I don’t see too many pitchers make that play the way he made it.”
The Mets remained one game behind the Giants for the first wild card and moved two games ahead of the Cardinals for the second wild card. But before San Francisco beat St. Louis late Friday night, the Mets took care of their own business in just the way Collins had implored them to play before they left Washington on Wednesday:
“Hey, look, we’ve got 16 to go and we’ve got to get after it.”
Colon’s way to get after it is to stay cool, flipping the ball up and catching it between pitches despite the fact that each day is more pivotal than the previous one for a team in the postseason hunt.
Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera got into pitches in the third, hitting back-to-back home runs. It was the latter’s 20th of the season and his 19th as a shortstop, tying a club single-season record held by Reyes. Cabrera left the game in the ninth as a precaution because of stiffness in his leg but later said he is OK.
Cespedes helped in the seventh as he drove home a run with a single up the middle, having put behind him the error he made while nonchalantly attempting a basket catch on Max Kepler’s fly ball.
“I think my mind was still on the umpire, his calls,” Cespedes said, apparently alluding to a previous at-bat.
It didn’t matter because Colon quickly picked Kepler off first.
There was an odd sort of pressure on the Mets. The thought of having three September games at home against the Twins, who own the worst record in the major leagues, seemed like a sheer gift. But imagine how embarrassed they will feel if they lose this series.
“I looked in the paper this morning: The Minnesota Twins just beat up the Detroit Tigers, who are in a pennant fight,” Collins said.
They didn’t have to worry. Colon (14-7) received an ovation when he walked off after the seventh.
“In his career, what he’s been able to do so far, it’s unbelievable,” Reyes said. “It’s hard to describe.”
You can start to describe it this way: He left having allowed only three hits and two walks and striking out six. And not having sweated too much about anything.
Bartolo Colon 7 IP 3 H 0 R 6 K