Bartolo Colón, the portly pitcher for the New York Mets, has been around so long that Marlins manager Mike Redmond remembers playing against him in the minors nearly 20 years ago.
Colón was winning games back then. And he’s still doing it.
The 41-year-old Colón, the majors’ oldest starting pitcher, improved to 3-0 on Friday with the Mets’ 4-1 victory over the Marlins at Citi Field. The victory extended the Mets’ winning streak to six, their longest in four years.
Other than another Giancarlo Stanton home run, his second in as many nights, Colón yielded almost nothing else, holding the Marlins to only six hits over seven innings.
“Bartolo’s good,” said first baseman Michael Morse, who went 0 for 3 against Colón. “His ball moves a lot. It’s tough to square him up. He definitely missed a lot of barrels.”
Colón even drove in a run with his first sacrifice fly since 2002.
That’s how it has been going for the Marlins, who fell to 3-8 and must now contend with reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and Mets ace Matt Harvey the final two games of the series.
“We’re coming across some really good pitching, especially the next two games,” Morse said. “We’ve just got to bear down and win whatever way it takes.”
With a solo shot in the first, Stanton continued his mastery of the Mets by homering in his fifth straight game against them. The only other players to do that against the Mets were Hank Aaron and Ryan Howard.
But it proved to be the only scoring all game for the Marlins, and it failed to hold up.
“Other than Giancarlo’s home run, we really couldn’t get anything going against Bartolo,” Redmond said. “This guy knows how to pitch. He hits his spots, he works all the corners, and he doesn’t give in. I’ve seen him do that a lot.”
David Phelps received the start in place of Henderson Alvarez, who is on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, and didn’t pitch poorly.
The Marlins were hoping Phelps could give them five innings, and it appeared he would have no trouble doing that when he held the Mets without a hit through the first four.
But it looked as though he began to tire in the fifth, and after issuing a one-out walk to Eric Campbell, gave up a single to Wilmer Flores and another walk to Anthony Recker on a borderline 3-2 pitch he thought was good for strike three. The umpire didn’t see it that way, though, and it loaded the bases for Colón, a career .080 hitter.
“The ball to Recker I thought we had it,” Phelps said. “But it’s probably not the first time [a call didn’t go his way], and it probably won’t be the last time.”
Colón promptly lofted a fly ball to center, deep enough to drive in Campbell and tie the score.
“I left a fastball up to the pitcher, and all he had to do was make contact with it,” Phelps said. “That’s one of the things I was frustrated about with the walk to Recker, was that I had the pitcher on deck and that was a big at-bat right there with two on.”
Said Redmond: “Yeah, I wasn’t thinking of him getting a sac fly, but that’s kind of the way [the Mets] are going right now.”
Brad Hand took over before Phelps could finish the inning and struck out Curtis Granderson to end it.
In the sixth, the Mets opened with three straight singles off Hand, scored twice, and effectively put the outcome to rest as the Marlins came up empty at the plate against the Mets‘ bullpen.