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Martin: “He looked as good as he has all year”

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Last night, Russell Martin saw something familiar in Bartolo Colon. He saw the same fastball that made Colon and reliable and occasionally dominant starter in the first half of the season.

“He had really good late movement on his fastball,” Martin said. “And when he was really good, he was locating that pitch really well. He looked as good as he has all year.”

For a while, the Yankees seemed to have caught lightning in a bottle with Colon. He spent the first couple months of the season pitching like a legitimate No. 2 starter. He didn’t look washed up. Didn’t seem past his prime. Didn’t need to worry about his spot in the rotation.

Then the lightning was gone.

From July 7 through August 23, Colon had a 5.21 ERA. Opponents were hitting .311 against him, and there was legitimate reason to worry whether the workload was finally catching up to him.

In his past three starts, though, Colon’s been much better. He’s pitched into the seventh inning in each of those three outings, and his fastball has regained some of that early season control and movement.

“He’s looked better as of late,” Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes guys are going to go through little hiccups during the season, but he’s started to pitch better. Physically he looks pretty good again, so that’s important.”

As the Yankees sort out their rotation, Colon is his own sort of wild card. He hasn’t dealt with Phil Hughes’ injury problems or A.J. Burnett’s steady disappointment, but he’s dealt with more innings than he’s thrown in six years. There’s always that looming threat of an expiration date. If nothing else, last night Colon proved he’s not finished just yet.

“I feel like in the beginning of the season,” he said. “The location of the pitch was the same thing. My command was really good today… What I did today is the location of my sinker was really, really good. Every time I command that way, I will pitch the same way I was pitching the first half.”

Associated Press photo