In a spring training clubhouse that had quite a few unknowns, Colon was perhaps the greatest wild card. For a while, he was the Yankees most unexpected surprise.
“In spring training he was phenomenal,” catcher Russell Martin said. “In his bullpens — he’s always been known as a strike thrower — but his command was unbelievable. He doesn’t have the best offspeed in the world, but when his sinker’s working really well, it doesn’t really matter.
“… He did a great job for us, especially early in the season when he really had control of the sinker. He was pretty much untouchable for a while there. As we went along, he kind of wasn’t as consistent as the year went along, but he still kept us in a lot of games. I definitely take my cap off to that guy. He did a great job for us this year.”
Joe Girardi wouldn’t commit to any sort of role for Colon in the postseason. He said he’s still considering Colon for a spot in the rotation, and it’s possible the Yankees will carry him in the bullpen. Girardi also acknowledged that Colon’s velocity was once again lower than the Yankees saw in the first half, and he hasn’t won a game since July 30. He’ll finish the season with a 4.00 ERA.
“Bart was great for us this year,” Girardi said. “He picked us up at a time where we were struggling and weren’t sure what we were going to do with our starters. Bart was big for us.”
That’s hard to argue. In the first half, when Phil Hughes was on the disabled list and Ivan Nova had yet to emerge as a reliable big league starter, Colon was the Yankees second-best starter. He gave the Yankees more than they could have expected. Question is whether he will give them any more.
• The first of two big blows against the Yankees came in the sixth inning, when Martin grounded into a triple play with the bases loaded. “I just hit it in the wrong spot,” Martin said. “It was the pitch I was looking for, I kind of had an idea he was going to start me with the changeup. It was really a good pitch to hit. It was changeup middle. I just got out in front and rolled over, and really just hit it in the wrong spot. He made a nice play, though.”
• The triple play was the third in Rays history. It was the first the Yankees hit into since 2000. They’ve hit into 25 in franchise history. “As soon as I hit it, I just put my head down,” Martin said. “I knew what was happening… I was trying to get down the line as fast as I could, and just not fast enough. It sucked.”
• The second big blow against the Yankees came in the seventh, when Rafael Soriano gave up the game-winning, three-run home run to Matt Joyce. “It was the walks that killed him tonight,” Girardi said. “If you’re going to have it happen, get it out of the way tonight. He’s been so good for us, I don’t make much of it. Robby comes in and throws well, Mo comes in and throws well, so we move on.”
• Girardi said he’ll try to get Boone Logan and Luis Ayala some work tomorrow night (which seemed to suggest Ayala has a spot on the postseason roster). “I feel good about our bullpen,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees still have not chosen a starter for tomorrow’s game. “I can’t start A.J., I can’t start Freddy, I can’t start Bart, I can’t start CC,” Girardi said. “We’re going to talk about it. That’s all we can do and well figure it out. I will have a starter by 7:10.”
• Girardi said he’s still planning to have his regulars — including Rodriguez — in the lineup tomorrow. He’s not sure how long they’ll play.
• Girardi on the Rays decision to intentionally walk Robinson Cano to face Rodriguez with two on in the third inning: “Robbie’s swinging a great bat. We’re just trying to make it as difficult on teams as possible. When you’re swinging that great, they’re going to do that.”
• Johnny Damon passed Lou Gehrig for 57th place on baseball’s all-time hits list with 2,722. He’s two shy of tying Roberto Alomar for 56th.
• Colon is the first Yankees pitcher to go winless in 10 or more consecutive starts since Ian Kennedy from Sept. 7, 2007 to Aug. 8, 2008. So, obviously Colon will be in the Cy Young mix in the National League in three years.
• The last Yankees starter to go at least 10 starts without a win in a single season was Dvaid Cone in 2000. Cone with 15 straight.
• The Joyce home run was the first Soriano had allowed on the road this season.
• Martin has 18 homers in 417 at-bats this season. He had 12 homers in 836 at-bats from 2009 through 2010. Tonight he hit his first home run since going deep twice on August 25.
Associated Press photos