Last night Bartolo Colon felt like a rookie all over again in front of the crowds at Fenway Park. Having to follow up two pitching gems by youngsters is never an easy feat, especially by a veteran who’s making his first start in the big leagues of the year, on a new ball club, in front of a sold out house, for a first place team. Luckily, Colon pushed all of those obstacles aside and hurled 5 strong innings in picking up the win for the Boston Red Sox who downed the Kansas City Royals for the 3rd straight night by a score of 6-3. The Sox have now won 6 games in a row and 9 at Fenway Park.
The former Cy-Young award winner acknowledged that he was very nervous before the game began, a reminiscent feeling of when he made his major league debut for the Cleveland Indians in June of 1997. That start just happened to come at Fenway Park against the Red Sox, and Colon just happened to pick up the win.
“I thought about that tonight after the game and reminisced about that great moment and kind of compared this to that moment… I was very nervous in the first inning,” Colon said after showing that his elbow problems from last year were gone. “I felt like my first professional outing, actually. But after the first inning I was able to settle down and really enjoy the moment.”
Over the 5 innings, Colon scattered 6 hits, walked 2 and struck out 4 in a very promising outing for his future with the Red Sox. He threw 74 pitches, 46 for strikes in his first start in the bigs since Sept. 22nd 2007.
Jacoby Ellsbury jumpstarted the Sox offense with a leadoff homerun to right in first inning. The blast was his 4th on the season and he would finish the night with 3 hits. Jason Varitek would also add a solo homerun in the 5th inning which at the time knotted the game at 2-2.
After V-Tek’s shot to right, the Sox bats came to life and they would go on to score 4 times in total in the inning making the score 5-2. David Ortiz crushed a ball to center with the bases load, but the fly ball was hit to the deepest part of the outfield and was only good enough for a sacrifice fly driving in Julio Lugo. The RBI was Ortiz’s 38th on the year.
The bullpen combination of Craig Hansen, Javier Lopez and Manny Delcarmen pitched a scoreless 6th, 7th and 8th inning in relief of Colon. Mike Timlin pitched the 9th recording the final three outs, allowing a meaningless run on 1 hit and 1 walk to preserve Colon’s victory. His battery mate couldn’t have been happier for the 34-year old.
“The big man had a huge smile on his face when we all got in” the clubhouse, catcher Varitek said. “I mean, this is pretty big for him to be able to make his way back.”
Joey Gathwright plated all 3 runs for the Royals and managed to reach base all four of his plate appearances with 2 hits and 2 walks. The game was his first back after missing 3 contests due to a sore left shoulder. He also swiped a base during his outing.
When asked about Colon’s performance on the night Gathwright said, “He’s Colon. He’s always been good. He spots his ball, and his ball moves. He threw harder back (in 2005), but he still has good stuff.”
The question now for the Red Sox is how good is his stuff, and is it good enough to earn the burly fireballer another start before Clay Buchholtz returns from the DL.
This will be something manager Terry Francona will have all week to think about but it’s also an answer that Red Sox Nation will be very interested in finding out as well. Buchholtz may be the future of the organization but there’s nothing like having a proven veteran and former Cy Young award winner at the backstop of your rotation.
Today the Sox look to sweep the Royals and their 7-game homestand by sending Dice-K Matsuzaka to the hill. Matsuzaka is a perfect 7-0 on the season and the Sox have not lost a game in one of his starts this year.
Following this series the Sox will ship out for another 10-game road trip featuring stops in Oakland, Seattle and Baltimore. Their 20-5 home record is the best in baseball while their 10-14 road record is the worst in the AL East. The Sox will look to improve on that by first visiting the Oakland Athletics for a 3-game weekend series beginning tomorrow evening at 10:07 EST.