Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon will make his second start since coming off the disabled list when the Los Angeles Angels continue their three-game series against the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Saturday.
Colon (0-3, 5.57 ERA) enjoyed the best season of his 10-year career in 2005 by going 21-8. But he has yet to win in four appearances this season after missing more than two months with right shoulder inflammation.
Colon had started at least 30 games in nine straight seasons before this year.
“The power that I usually have this time of year I can’t compare to the others years because I’ve missed so much time,” Colon said. “I have to work harder now than at any point in my career in between starts in order for me to recoup all the strengths that I need.”
He returned to the rotation for Los Angeles (33-40) Sunday against San Diego. In a 102-pitch outing, the right-hander gave up four runs—two earned— and struck out a season-high five over seven innings of a 7-3 defeat.
“I feel pretty good about how things went. It was almost like a sense of relief to be able to cut loose and feel no discomfort whatsoever,” said Colon, who retired 10 straight batters at one point, but still took the loss. “There was no pain, no stiffness. The only thing I’m working through right now is building up the strength in my shoulder.”
Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia was encouraged by what he saw.
“His stuff was good,” he said. “He was in and out of the zone and had good velocity. I think a little later in the outing his pitches were up a little bit.”
Colon has never faced Arizona (36-38) and will be opposed by right-hander Claudio Vargas (6-4, 5.02). The right-hander is 0-2 in three starts since his last win June 3 against Atlanta.
Vargas matched a season-high with six strikeouts on Monday against Pittsburgh, but did not get a decision in a 5-4, 11-inning victory.
He has never faced the Angels.
Los Angeles took the series opener 8-2 on Friday. Catcher Mike Napoli singled and scored during a three-run first inning before hitting a solo homer in the third inning to make it 5-0.
The homer—an estimated 470 feet—was the third longest in the nine-year history of Chase Field.
“He’s doing the job behind the plate first and foremost,” Scioscia said. “But you’re not going to square up a ball any better than he did.”
Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera also homered and has reached base safely in a franchise-record 51 straight games. Its the majors’ longest streak since the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reached safely in 53 straight games in 2004.
Chad Tracy hit his team-high 12th homer for Arizona, which has been outscored 86-26 while losing 10 of its last 11 at home.
“I know we’re a better team than we’re showing right now,” Diamondbacks catcher Johnny Estrada said. “We were clicking in all phases of the game when we were playing well. You can’t expect to sustain that for 162 games.”