Colon giving Twins boost in AL Wild Card race

Veteran turns in another strong outing, goes seven scoreless

Colon giving Twins boost in AL Wild Card race

MILWAUKEE -- Just when Bartolo Colon is about to be written off, the 44-year-old right-hander proves that his 20-year career isn't over yet.

Colon followed up a complete-game performance last week by throwing seven scoreless innings in the Twins' 4-0 win over the Brewers on Wednesday at Miller Park, as the veteran continues to provide them with an unexpected boost.

The Twins signed Colon last month to provide starting depth for down the stretch, as their American League Wild Card aspirations appeared to be fading. But with two strong starts from Colon mixed in, Minnesota has won five of six and sits just 1 1/2 games back of Seattle for the second Wild Card spot.

"Right now, with how good we are playing, we are able to find ways to win games," Colon said through an interpreter. "Hopefully, with God's help, we can keep winning games and see what we can do down the road."

According to the Baseball-Reference.com database, Colon became the oldest right-hander to pitch seven or more scoreless innings in 23 years on Wednesday. Knuckleballer Charlie Hough shut out the Cardinals on June 14, 1994, at age 46.

Colon shut down the Brewers, allowing just two baserunners to reach second base and scattering five singles over seven scoreless innings.

"It was fun to watch," manager Paul Molitor said. "I don't think you go into a game thinking Bartolo is going to give you seven zeros, but he kept making pitches.

"He was in command. You could tell by their swings. The ball running in on their hands on the back-door sinker, and mixing in the change and the breaking ball. He has just had a really good feel lately of how to make pitches and what guys might be looking for and how to counter that."

Colon posted an 8.14 ERA in 13 starts with the Braves before being released on July 4. He signed a Minor League deal with Minnesota three days later. After one start for Triple-A Rochester, he made his debut with the Twins on July 18.

The Twins lost each of Colon's first three starts, in which he had a 5.87 ERA. But something clicked in a complete-game win over Texas on Aug. 4, and carried over to Wednesday.

"I think what has helped is just mixing my pitches up," Colon said. "My first two starts, I was just throwing the fastball. Now, I am able to mix it up."

The Twins certainly would continue to benefit in the Wild Card race if Colon truly does have more left in the tank.

Minnesota has starter Ervin Santana to thank, as his recruiting phone call to Colon was the deciding factor in the veteran signing with the Twins.

"I feel good," Colon said. "I have to thank the Braves for giving me an opportunity, and now the Twins and Ervin Santana. Without him, I wouldn't be here. We had a talk before I came here, and it motivated me to come here."

Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee and covered the Twins on Wednesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.