NEW YORK -- With respect to his power hitting, if Bartolo Colon has one immutable baseball skill at age 42, it is his control. Colon's ability to pepper the strike zone at will is what has allowed him to remain productive well into his 40s, despite long since losing his prime velocity.
So it was more than eyebrow-raising when Colon walked five batters for the first time in more than 11 years Wednesday, throwing 107 pitches and departing with two outs in the fifth inning of a 7-1 loss to the Nationals.
"I really don't know what to say about the five walks," said Colon, who gave up five hits and three total runs. "I just felt a little bit different. I couldn't quite get that comfortable grip."
Combined, Colon and the Mets' bullpen walked 11 batters and hit two others at Citi Field, with four of those free baserunners coming around to score. Baseball's modern history has record of only 73 games in which a team walked at least 11 batters and plunked at least two. Those clubs have recovered to win only nine of those games.
The Mets didn't come particularly close to becoming the 10th, mostly because Colon did not emerge from his control issues unscathed. Back-to-back free passes to Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper in the third inning led to a run when the next batter, Daniel Murphy, singled off David Wright's glove.
Two innings later, Harper's third walk of the game put Werth in scoring position, and Murphy's groundout advanced both runners, allowing them to score on an Anthony Rendon single.
Afterward, Colon said he was not trying to walk Harper, despite that becoming a popular strategy around the league.
"Bart's got too good of command when he's right," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You can't walk Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper to bring up Dan Murphy. You're asking for your throat to be cut. And he did it two times in a row. That's what baffled me."
What didn't contribute adversely to his performance, Colon said, were distractions of a personal nature. But the pitcher did not wish to comment on that specifically after the game.
"When I'm here doing my job, nothing else affects me, thank God," Colon said. "I have nothing to add to that. I don't really care to talk about my personal stuff."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.