He sure pitched that way against Oakland, throwing a four-hitter for his first shutout in nearly five years as the New York Yankees beat the Athletics for the eighth straight time, 5-0 on Monday.
“I feel really strong physically and mentally right now,” Colon said through an interpreter. “I feel really good right now. It doesn’t matter that I’m 38 years old. I feel really good right now.”
Mark Teixeira(notes) hit a two-run homer off Trevor Cahill(notes) (6-3), Robinson Cano(notes) added an RBI double and Derek Jeter(notes) recorded his 2,981st career hit and drove in a run for the Yankees, who have won 22 of 26 games against Oakland since the start of the 2008 season.
But the story of the game was Colon, who dialed up a performance reminiscent of his AL Cy Young award season in 2005.
“When he first came up he just threw the ball as hard as he could,” Jeter said. “Now he’s hitting his spots, his ball is moving, he’s getting ahead of guys. He’s become more of a pitcher. I think he was more of a thrower when he first came up.”
Colon allowed no walks and struck out six to snap a five-start winless stretch with his first shutout since blanking Seattle 4-0 on July 5, 2006, with the Angels.
He was extremely efficient, needing just 103 pitches for the complete game, and was still strong at the end—hitting 95 mph on the radar gun on his final pitch.
“It just showed you how on he was today with his location,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve seen it before when his location is as good as it was today it’s tough to score runs.”
This marked the latest step in a remarkable comeback season for the 38-year-old Colon, who was out of baseball a year ago and was brought by the Yankees to spring training on a minor league deal. Colon earned a spot in the rotation early this season and has maintained it with a 3.26 ERA in the opening two months of the year.
“He’s really exceeding our expectations,” Teixeira said. “He’s been huge for us. If we didn’t have him in our rotation, we’d be scrambling right now.”
The offensively challenged A’s were shut out for the sixth time this year, getting only four baserunners against Colon (3-3) to snap a season-longest four-game winning streak.
“Today was just one of those days where we got beat,” Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis(notes) said. “They threw it better than us, they hit better than us and they caught better than us. All I can say is we have two more games in this series.”
Cahill was shelled in two starts against the Yankees last year, allowing 14 runs in 10 innings in two losses. He started this game much the same way with a three-run first inning.
Jeter got it started with a leadoff single and scored with one out on Teixeira’s 16th home run and seventh in the past 11 games. Alex Rodriguez(notes) then walked and scored on Robinson Cano’s double. Cano was caught on the play rounding too far past second and Cahill settled down after that. He retired Jorge Posada(notes) to get out of the first and then gave up just one hit and no runs over the next five innings.
“I made a bad pitch and he made me pay for it,” Cahill said. “Other than that, in a game like this against a team like that, you make a couple mistakes and that’s all it takes.”
The Yankees added an insurance run in the seventh. Brent Gardner and Francisco Cervelli(notes) walked and pulled off a double steal. Gardner then scored on Jeter’s shallow fly to center field when Coco Crisp’s(notes) throw home was far off target. Cahill allowed four runs, four hits and five walks in 6 2-3 innings and is winless in his last four starts.
That proved to be more for Colon. After allowing a leadoff double to Josh Willingham(notes) in the second inning, Colon retired the next 12 hitters. Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) broke that streak with a leadoff single in the sixth.
Kurt Suzuki(notes) reached on an infield hit in the eighth before being erased by a double play. Colon then pitched around Cliff Pennington’s(notes) leadoff double in the ninth to finish his ninth career shutout.
Notes: Yankees C Russell Martin(notes) was scratched before the game with a sore left big toe. His replacement, Cervelli, became the first Yankees catcher to steal two bases in a game since Girardi did it June 27, 1996, against Baltimore. … Monday was the 16th anniversary of Jeter’s first career hit. … A’s starters have allowed four runs or fewer in 28 straight starts, the longest streak for the team since a 32-gamer in 1980-81.