Veteran sets Mets record for most innings pitched without issuing walk
By Joe Trezza
NEW YORK -- Early in Bartolo Colon's third straight rough outing, he squeezed in a little bit of history.
By recording the first eight outs of Wednesday's 9-0 loss to the Cardinals, Colon set a franchise record for control by passing Bret Saberhagen's mark of 47 2/3 consecutive innings pitched without issuing a free pass. Colon's streak ended at 48 1/3 innings when he walked Matt Carpenter with one out in the fourth inning.
But as has been the story for much of May, the man who is seemingly always around the plate was around it too much.
"Maybe I need to change my approach and start throwing more balls than strikes," said Colon, who allowed nine runs (eight earned) on 11 hits. "I got my behind whipped."
Manager Terry Collins said that the team might consider finding extra days of rest in the future for Colon, who at age 41 started the season by winning five of his first six starts. Through May 5, he had a 2.90 ERA, but three starts later that number has ballooned to 4.85 after a bittersweet night in which two walks proved to be the least of his problems. He also surrendered four extra-base hits, two of them going for long home runs.
It was the second straight loss for Colon, who allowed five earned runs his previous time out in a defeat to Milwaukee. And for the second straight game, he allowed multiple homers, the result of an aggressive team taking advantage of his propensity to throw predominantly fastballs.
The Cardinals jumped on that pitch early and often on Wednesday. The leadoff man reached base all five times against Colon. The most successful of these was Jason Heyward, who singled to open the second, homered to begin the fourth and drew a walk at the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of the third, Colon reached on a squibber in front of home plate that went for an error on Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Colon ran the bases before being stranded at third base, which Collins said could have contributed to his ineffectiveness the following inning.
"Maybe that's the reason the next inning he didn't have much," Collins said. "I don't think I've ever seen him struggle so much with command."
Colon entered Wednesday looking to become the first Mets pitcher to go eight straight starts without issuing a walk, and the first in the Majors since Greg Maddux in 2007. Between Ryan Zimmerman on Opening Day and Carpenter on Wednesday, Colon went 204 batters between free passes allowed. Saberhagen set the previous club record from May 10 to June 3, 1994.
"I was really happy I was pitching that way," Colon said of the streak. "But at the same time, I'm really sad and disappointed that the team took the loss."
Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.