NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon seemed almost casual about it at first, stepping off the pitching rubber and pirouetting on the mound. But as soon as Colon saw A.J. Pierzynski caught between first and second base in the sixth inning Thursday, all 5-foot-11, 285 pounds and 41 years of him came charging at the Braves catcher, trapping him on the basepaths and slapping him with a tag.
The result was a rare unassisted caught stealing, helping Colon win a 6-3 game over the Braves to join Phil Niekro, Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens as the only pitchers in 80 years to open a season 4-0 at age 40 or older.
"I thought he was pretty mobile right there," second baseman Daniel Murphy said, laughing.
It was the latest example of Colon's unique brand of athleticism despite his age and build. Religious in the weight room, Colon maintains better care of his body than many around baseball assume, allowing him to remain competitive at age 41. Teammates remark that it often goes unnoticed because of his weight and almost-comical plate appearances, which frequently result in his helmet flying off his head.
Every once in a while, however, Colon surprises the opposition, as he did two starts ago with an RBI single off Alex Wood. And as he did Thursday against an unsuspecting baserunner, with red-hot Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons at the plate.
"I thought I could sneak one there," Pierzynski said. "Bartolo is a veteran guy who has been around a long time, so he doesn't panic. He just did what he's supposed to do."
"I thank Pierzynski for taking off and making it a lot easier," Colon said through an interpreter, "so I didn't have to face one of the toughest guys in their lineup today."
Coming into the day with RBI in consecutive games after nearly a decade without one, Colon finished 0-for-1 at the plate with a sacrifice bunt. He also gave the Mets six innings of three-run ball despite a blister on his throwing hand, leaving with his fourth consecutive victory. At age 41 -- that can't be stressed enough -- he leads the Majors with four wins to supplement a 2.77 ERA, 23 strikeouts and just one walk.
If the blister affected him Thursday, it was only by making him even more fastball-reliant than usual. Mixing five sliders into his 91 pitches, Colon relied almost exclusively on his four-seam fastball and sinker.
"It only bothered me to throw breaking pitches, secondary pitches," he said, laughing. "But I don't use those, so it didn't bother me at all."