Colon won his fifth straight start Sunday, and the Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 3-2 to remain 2 1/2 games behind first-place Oakland in the AL West. The right-hander has turned his season around after losing six of seven decisions before this streak.
“His delivery’s been very consistent, which has allowed him to get the velocity he needs—and the location,” Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said. “It’s not so much that he wasn’t trying to challenge the hitters before, but now he has the tools to do it because he’s able to make pitches. His confidence is up, and that’s a good combination for a pitcher.”
When Colon signed a $51 million, four-year contract with the Angels last December, they figured he would immediately display the form that enabled him to average 16 victories the previous six seasons and win 20 games in 2002. He won his first two starts, then won only three of his next 15.
“He was going to stay out there and keep working on it until he got it right,” Scioscia said. “There was no talk of taking him out of the rotation. That would have been an absolute last resort.”
Colon (10-8) allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings, striking out six and walking three. In his last five starts, he has allowed seven earned runs over 33 innings and just three homers—quite a change for a pitcher who had yielded a league-leading 26 home runs in his first 17 outings.
“Every pitch is working right now,” Colon said through a translator. “What I’ve done more now is go to my breaking ball, and not necessarily on breaking-ball counts. I also wasn’t using the changeup enough against righties before, so that’s been a big help. My fastball is better now, because I’m not throwing it automatically in certain counts that dictated what I threw.”
Robb Quinlan homered and doubled in the go-ahead run, helping the Angels send Seattle to its 18th loss in 19 road games. Kevin Gregg pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings, and Scot Shields got four outs for his fourth save.
Vladimir Guerrero, the Angels’ home run and RBI leader, played despite discomfort in his left shoulder after getting hit by a throw while running from second to third on Saturday. His ground-rule double in the sixth followed a leadoff single by Garret Anderson, who came home on Darin Erstad’s sacrifice fly to tie the score at 2.
Quinlan, who had 15 RBIs in July, drove in Guerrero with a double inside third base to give the Angels their first lead against Ryan Franklin (3-10). The right-hander lost his sixth straight decision in a span of seven starts, allowing three runs and six hits in seven innings.
Franklin was charged with balks in the second and third by first base umpire Angel Hernandez because of his pickoff move to first base. But the pitcher kept his focus and escaped both jams.
“He said Frankie buckled his left knee, and he’s got a point,” Seattle manager Bob Melvin said. “There are a bunch of guys that do it. I know Kevin Brown in New York does it all the time. Frankie’s not trying to do it, but he’s got so much weight on his back leg sometimes. It’s just something we’ve got to work on a little bit.”
The Mariners loaded the bases in the fifth with two outs. But Colon struck out former Angels World Series hero Scott Spiezio, who was 3-for-15 with no RBIs in the four-game series.
“Losing is no fun, especially when you’re struggling as an individual,” said Spiezio, hitting .208 with nine homers and 34 RBIs in 83 games. “It’s been a horrible season for me. I had about a month of good hitting, then I just went downhill, and it’s just been a downward spiral ever since. I’ve had periods where I’ve felt good at the plate, and others where I had no idea what I was doing.”
Quinlan brought the Angels a run closer in the fifth, leading off with a homer to left-center that extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games. All three of his major league homers have come in a nine-day span, and all against Seattle.
Colon’s longest winning streak is six in 2002—three with Cleveland and three with Montreal. … Franklin committed two balks last season in 212 innings. His only other balk this season came on July 17 against Cleveland.