Did extra rest help Colon complete shutout?
Bartolo Colon threw a season-high 116 pitches in his shutout Sunday in Anaheim. (AP)
ANAHEIM -- Bartolo Colon awoke Sunday morning with an upset stomach.
"My arm," though, he said in Spanish, "felt fine."
Indeed. Despite his velocity being a tick or two off, Colon proved to be the A's stopper again with a four-hit shutout of the Los Angeles Angels, lifting the A's to a 6-0 victory as Oakland avoided the sweep.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Colon throws shutout to help A's avoid sweep]
It was the fifth straight time this season Colon followed an A's loss with a win, the sixth time overall, and it was his 12th career shutout and his second complete-game shutout of the season (he had a rain-shortened, seven-inning three-hitter at Boston on April 23).
And it almost did not happen. Not after he surrendered one-out singles to J.B. Schuck and Mike Trout in the ninth and A's manager Bob Melvin paid Colon a mound visit. Jesse Chavez and Ryan Cook were already warmed up.
But for the first time Melvin could remember, Colon asked to stay in.
"One more batter," Colon pleaded. And Melvin obliged. Even if that next batter was Albert Pujols.
No matter, Colon struck out Pujols looking on a 91-mph two-seam fastball.
One batter later, Colon got Josh Hamilton to pop out to shallow left and the complete game was done.
"He's always in a great mood," Melvin said of Colon. "But he's even better when he's starting, which is unusual for a starter."
Nothing, it seems, is usual about Colon, who has been getting better after turning 40 on May 24. It was the 10th time in 12 starts he's gone at least seven innings, the 13th straight game he's thrown at least six innings and allowed three or fewer runs.
And yes, we know all about his 50-game suspension last season for a failed drug test and his being linked to the Biogenesis scandal.
The season-high 116 pitches Colon threw had his manager gripping a bit.
"I'm trying to get him through a season," said Melvin, who added he did not want Colon to go above 120 pitches and joked he kept his eyes closed in the ninth inning.
Colon, who struck out five and walked one in improving to 13-3, is trying to put the A's in position to win games. It was the first time in nine games the A's scored more than three runs. They are 5-4 in this stretch now.
"Obviously, you want to get as many (runs) as you can behind Bartolo," said second baseman Eric Sogard, whose two-run home run in the third inning staked Colon to the early lead.
"But you know what he's going to do out there and six is plenty for him to be working with. It was a great job on both parts today."
With nine hits, the A's nearly equaled the 10 they had combined in the first two games of the series, in which they scored one total run. And with the six-run lead, Colon could "cruise" a little bit, Melvin said.
But as streaky as the A's hitting has been, Colon has been just as consistent.
He is 10-1 in his last 13 games with a 1.62 ERA. His 13 wins are the most by a 40-year-old since Tim Wakefield won 17 games in 2007.
"It's what he does," Sogard said. "It seems like that's what he's been doing every time out there. It's fun playing behind him. You know he's going to pound the zone, make the defense work and he works quick."
Angel Stadium was once Colon's home as he won the 2005 American League Cy Young Award while pitching for the Angels. So of course he should be comfortable here. Though it's not just in Anaheim where the All-Star kicks up his feet.
Everywhere he goes, people want to know how Colon is doing it.
"I ask myself the same thing," he said with a smile. "I don't know."