ANAHEIM (CBS / AP) — It wasn’t as though Bartolo Colon didn’t give the Los Angeles Angels anything good to hit. The Oakland Athletics’ right-hander threw 82 of his 108 pitches for strikes against his former team—including 38 in a row at one point.
But the Angels’ vaunted offense managed only four hits over eight innings against the 38-year-old Colon, who struck out five and walked none in a 6-0 victory on Wednesday night.
“I felt like I threw a lot of strikes, but I never thought I threw 38 in a row. I didn’t know anything about it until I came in here,” Colon said through a translator. “The two-seamer was the most consistent pitch that I had tonight. I feel good because I know that team has great players. You have to have confidence in yourself, because if you don’t, that’s when you have trouble.”
Colon’s strike streak ended on an 0-1 pitch to Bobby Abreu with one out in the eighth after he gave up a pinch-hit ground-rule double by Erick Aybar—the only hitter to reach second base against him.
“I can’t believe it,” A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “I mean, against a team like the Angels when you look at their lineup, that’s going after guys and not being afraid to throw strikes. That’s what he did tonight—basically off heaters, too. He was just dialing.
“We tried to keep it going. And as the game goes on, you kind of figure out what’s working for him,” Suzuki added. “We got into a rhythm probably after the second inning. Bartolo knows where the ball’s going and he knows what he wants to do. He’s the kind of pitcher you need in the rotation to kind of stabilize it, and the kind that the other guys can lean on, with the young rotation we have.”
Colon (3-1) helped drop his former team six games behind two-time defending AL champion Texas in the AL West—just 12 games into the season.
“Our offense has been a little bit spotty, and we need to get simple at the plate,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “Some guys are starting to get into their game—but as a unit, we’re not finding that offensive chemistry. We just need to start to get a better direction of our own. But we have a good club. I really like this club.”
Colon won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award after helping lead the Angels to a division title with a 21-8 record and 3.48 ERA. The two-time All-Star is 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA in five starts against them since leaving the organization and signing with Boston as a free agent in February 2008.
Colon, whose three previous starts this season all were against Seattle, has walked only two batters in his first 27 1-3 innings and has made 18 consecutive starts with fewer than three—one off his longest such streak. The last time he issued more than two walks was July 7, 2011, when he had four against Tampa Bay.
“It’s a phenomenal feat, yet really not surprising out of him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of the 38 straight strikes. “I mean, I think he could throw a strike with his eyes closed if he had to. That’s the way he’s been for us. Granted they have a great lineup and you can never take a breather with it. But a guy like Bartolo has been around long enough to know that you’re going to throw strikes, not walk anybody and make them earn their way on.”
Yoenis Cespedes hit a three-run homer for Oakland, giving the Cuban-born rookie a team-leading 12 RBIs in his first 12 games.
Jonny Gomes added a solo shot for the A’s against Ervin Santana (0-3), who gave up four runs and seven hits over seven innings with five strikeouts. The Angels’ No. 3 starter is 5-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 14 starts since his no-hitter at Cleveland on July 27, and has a 6.75 ERA in his three starts this season.
Colon was staked to a 3-0 lead before he even threw a pitch. Cespedes, whose two-run double capped a four-run eighth inning in Tuesday night’s 5-3 win, drove a 1-2 pitch into the left field bullpen for his fourth home run after singles by Cliff Pennington and Josh Reddick.
Gomes, starting in left field with Coco Crisp battling a flu bug and a 2-for-24 drought, led off the sixth with a drive to left field for his third homer of the season—and third hit.
Albert Pujols’ season-opening home run drought reached 12 games and 49 at-bats. The three-time NL MVP was 1 for 4, including a sixth-inning drive that Cespedes caught at the edge of the warning track in left-center. The only other time in Pujols’ 12-year career that he went more than five games before hitting his first homer was 2008, when it took him nine games and 28 at-bats to do it.
Notes: The Angels have called a press conference for Thursday to announce a contract extension for Aybar, for a reported $35 million over four years. He then will be presented with his first Gold Glove before the start of the series finale. … The A’s had 10 hits, including Jemile Weeks’ RBI double in the ninth. It was the first time they’re reached double digits in 13 games this season. … Angels LF Bobby Abreu was 0 for 4 while batting in the leadoff spot for the first time since Aug. 28, 2010 — when he ended stretch of 20 consecutive starts in the one hole. Lifetime, he is hitting .281 with nine homers, 20 RBIs, 32 walks and 45 strikeouts in 50 starts in the leadoff spot.
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