The Los Angeles Angels would like Bartolo Colon to re-establish the dominance that enabled the right-hander to win the 2005 AL Cy Young Award. Fortunately for them, he seems to pitch that way whenever he faces the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Colon looks to end his struggles as the Angels open a three-game series against the Devil Rays, the majors’ worst team, on Tuesday.
After winning his first five decisions, Colon (6-4, 6.44 ERA) is 1-4 with a 9.07 ERA in eight starts since May 23. He is 1-2 with a 9.67 ERA in five road starts over that span, but 3-0 with a 2.72 ERA in seven career starts at Tropicana Field. Colon is 9-1 with a 3.31 ERA in 16 lifetime starts versus the Devil Rays, his best record against any AL opponent.
This will be Colon’s first appearance at Tropicana Field since he made his final 2006 start there on July 26. Colon had allowed four runs and four hits, including two homers, when his season ended because of a torn right rotator cuff.
Colon opted for rehabilitation rather than surgery in the offseason.
“He hasn’t been able to change speeds the way he can,” manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels’ official Web site. “He hasn’t been able to locate his fastball. He’s been getting behind counts and his ball has been elevated.”
Colon is coming off the shortest of his 14 starts in 2007, lasting just two innings in a 14-9 road loss to the New York Yankees on July 6. He was tagged for seven runs, seven hits and two walks, and remained winless since June 14.
“I actually thought I had pretty good stuff,” Colon said. “I did pick up the radar gun, and the velocity was right there. I was surprised the results were not there.”
The Angels (55-36) didn’t have desired results on Sunday, when they failed to complete a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers after Justin Speier allowed Mark Teixeira’s 11th-inning homer in a 5-4 defeat.
Meanwhile, the Angels have not homered in their last eight games, a 76-inning drought that matches the franchise record established from Aug. 6-14. They might be able to end their home run woes against Devil Rays right-hander James Shields (7-5, 3.98), whose 22 homers allowed trails only Angels’ starter Ervin Santana for the AL lead.
Shields hopes for a turnaround of his own. The 25-year-old is 1-5 with a 6.39 ERA in his six starts since June 15—a span in which he has given up 10 homers. Shields is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in three starts against the Angels.
Like Colon, Shields struggled against the Yankees in his most recent outing for the Devil Rays (35-56). Shields gave up six runs and nine hits in six innings of a 7-3 home loss Thursday.
“When you’re in the strike zone, you’re going to get swings,” Shields told the Devil Rays’ official Web site after surrendering three solo homers. “That’s the type of pitcher I want to be. I want to be aggressive.”
Devil Rays manager and former Angels bench coach Joe Maddon is 2-9 against his former team since arriving in Tampa in 2006. Los Angeles outscored Tampa 20-4 in two wins at Angel Stadium in April.
Tampa Bay dropped three of four games to New York, squandering a 3-0 lead for a second straight game in a 7-6 defeat on Sunday.
“It’s frustrating not to be able to carry it through, but I’m looking at the effort” Maddon said. “I’m looking at us doing the little things better.”