Is there any better image for the Oakland Athletics in 2013 than watching Bartolo Colon casually retire the side and walk back to the dugout clapping his hand inside his glove? It’s hard to come up with one. For most of the 2013 season, Bartolo has been the ace of the Oakland A’s staff, and had earned a well deserved place on the American League All-Star team and has inserted himself in the conversation for Cy Young Award votes.
The 40 year old appeared to be running out of gas though during the month of August, and questions began to arise as to whether or not he would be able to recapture his dominant form from earlier in the season. The severity of the groin injury that landed Bartolo on the 15 day DL shortly thereafter though remains to be seen. If it was a strategic use of the disabled list, then it was brilliant. A pitcher at his age simply cannot be expected to handle the workload of a full MLB season without wearing down. This move came around the same point in the season last year that Colon was suspended for PED use, and the A’s never saw how he would fare in the dog days of August and September.
It appears as if the 15 day respite was exactly what Bartolo Colon needed. In his three starts prior to Saturday’s duel with Yu Darvish in Arlington, Colon hadn’t given up more than one earned run. He did take the loss versus the Rangers in Oakland, allowing four run, with three being unearned due to his own error. Each of those starts were six innings or fewer, he was pitching effectively but not dominating like he had early in the season. That’s what made this start so exciting to watch.
Colon pitched eight stellar scoreless innings versus the Rangers as the A’s increased their lead in the AL West to 5.5 games. As he’s apt to do, he scattered seven his throughout his eight innings of work, and escaped some jams in the process. But he had that extra gear on his fastball, touching 94 and 95 MPH as he painted the corners in his best start in quite some time.
If the Bartolo Colon from the first half is back, then the Athletics will be in even more tremendous shape than they already are with a cushion like this in the division. Colon, along with Sunday’s starter Jarrod Parker can form a potentially dominant duo as the A’s head towards a hopefully deep run into October.