A rebirth at 40 for Bartolo Colon?

Colon proud to throw shutout, help A's win

A rebirth at 40 for Bartolo Colon?
May 31, 2013, 10:45 pm
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"The goal was to go for six or seven innings. Melvin asked me after the eighth how I felt. I said I felt good, so he told me to get back out there." -- Bartolo Colon (AP)

OAKLAND -- Some three hours before first pitch -- or, less time than it would take Bartolo Colon to carve up the Chicago White Sox -- A's manager Bob Melvin was asked what it meant for his starter to seemingly get stronger after turning 40.

"It means he's old, right?" Melvin joked. "I think he had a little something to prove. He'll never say that, but I think he had a little something to prove a little bit that game, first time over 40."

Colon was coming off a start in Houston in which he threw seven shutout innings and struck out nine without walking a batter.

"We saw the best velocity we've seen since he's been here," Melvin added. "I think the (Jose) Altuve at-bat he was (throwing) 94, 94-95 (mph). There's still a little something in the tank. He's always out to prove that he can be a successful pitcher at the major league level and he can still pitch as a power pitcher.

"The reason that he's had the lengthy career that he's had is that he never lets down."

Yeah, well, there was that whole 50-game suspension last year for PEDs, right?

Still, there's no denying how Colon followed up that Houston outing in his second outing as a 40-year-old. All he did was throw a complete-game, five-hit shutout this time, beating the White Sox, 3-0, Friday night as he struck out three and, again, did not issue a walk in his 106 pitches, 77 strikes.

"The goal was to go for six or seven innings," Colon said, in Spanish.

"Melvin asked me after the eighth how I felt. I said I felt good, so he told me to get back out there."

Melvin admitted he was looking at a 110-pitch limit, and if anyone had reached base in the ninth inning, the bullpen would have gotten ready…just in case.

Instead, it was Colon's first nine-inning shutout since May 30, 2011, when he beat the A's for the New York Yankees at the Coliseum.

Plus, Colon became the second-oldest pitcher in Oakland history to throw a shutout, behind Don Sutton, who was 40 years and 85 days, also against the White Sox, on June 26, 1985. And Colon is the first American League pitcher with a shutout after the age of 40 since Curt Schilling did it to the A's at the Coliseum on June 7, 2007.

"It was a tremendous game," Colon said of the series opener against the White Sox. "On both sides."

Almost. Because while Colon was dealing on his way to improving his record to 6-2 (All-Star Game anyone?), so too was his Chicago counterpart Dylan Axelrod, who had limited the A's to two hits through seven innings.

A's catcher John Jaso said what impressed him most about Colon's performance was how he basically ignored the scouting report on power-hitting Adam Dunn by pitching him in his wheelhouse and not getting hurt. Dunn had a single in three at-bats.

"There was so much movement on his ball," Jaso said. "Hitters' eyes get big when it's coming in because it's there and then it's gone with the movement.

"His four-seamer, he pumped that up a little bit. That's what he does."

It's part of Colon's pinpoint control. In 70 1/3 innings, Colon has walked just four batters. He last gave up a run more than 19 innings ago.

"He did what he's been doing since he got here last year," said right fielder Josh Reddick, who had the game-winning RBI with a double in the eighth in his first game off the disabled list.

"Throwing strikes, being quick. Doing what he's been doing for us the whole time."

And being efficient doing it.