Nobody, not even Bartolo Colon himself, imagined that he’d be enjoying one of his best seasons in 2013.
The Oakland Athletics are glad the 40-year-old has turned back the clock, and they’d be happier still if he can stick around the rest of the season.
Colon will try to match the major league lead with a 15th victory Wednesday when the AL West-leading A’s conclude their series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
After serving a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test that included the first five games this season, Colon (14-3, 2.54 ERA) is as surprised as anyone that he has a chance to tie Detroit’s Max Scherzer for the most victories in baseball.
“I wouldn’t have thought this,” Colon said after throwing six innings of two-run ball in Friday’s 6-4 win over Los Angeles Angels. “I have surprised myself right now because I didn’t know I was going to share the lead with the other pitchers. I am proud.”
So is manager Bob Melvin, whose team has won 12 of its last 13 with Colon on the mound.
“I’d be lying if I said I thought he’d be 14-3 right now,” Melvin told the Athletics’ official website. “… With starters sometimes, the win-loss record sometimes isn’t really indicative of how good he is, but to be able to be 14-3 and give us as many quality starts and shutouts, I have a ton of confidence in him.”
There has been speculation that Colon, as well as Toronto’s Melky Cabrera - who was out of Tuesday’s lineup with leg soreness - could each be handed second suspensions for their involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. However, sources have told the AP that they will not face additional discipline when Major League Baseball announces player penalties, perhaps as early as this week.
Colon will try to get the A’s (63-44) back on track after having a four-game win streak snapped with Tuesday’s 5-0 loss that also trimmed its division lead over Texas to five games.
The Blue Jays (49-57), last in the AL East, go for the series win with R.A. Dickey (8-11, 4.86) coming off another rocky start.
The veteran knuckleballer allowed five runs in six innings of Friday’s 12-6 victory over Houston. An eight-run seventh inning helped prevent Dickey from losing a career high-tying fourth consecutive start.
“I’m trying to remain optimistic because I feel like the same guy I was last year and it is frustrating not to get the same results,” said Dickey, last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner.
He’s already matched his career high in home runs allowed (24), but only six of those have come on the road. Dickey is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts in Oakland, where he has not pitched since 2008 while with Seattle.
Alberto Callaspo, who’s hitting .253 with five home runs and 36 RBIs, could make his first appearance in an A’s uniform after being acquired from the Angels on Tuesday for prospect Grant Green. Callaspo is expected to back up third baseman Josh Donaldson and play some at second, even though he hasn’t done that since 2010.
“The good thing is he’s played a lot of it in the past but there’s no question there’s been a little bit of a void the last couple of years,” general manager Billy Beane said.
The Blue Jays have been getting plenty of production from Edwin Encarnacion, who has reached safely in 16 of his last 25 plate appearances.
Encarnacion, the AL player of the week, is 4 for 16 with a double off Colon.
Jose Reyes (3 for 4), Colby Rasmus (4 for 6) and Cabrera (5 for 8) have fared much better against the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner.