Colon keeps Mariners guessing all day
Updated: Tuesday October 09, 2001 9:31 PM
Colon painted the corners and overpowered Seattle's top hitters with his fastball in eight shutout innings Tuesday as Cleveland surprisingly took Game 1 of the division series against the Mariners 5-0.
"Being No. 1, I tried to set the tone for the series," Colon said. "When you punch first, you can punch two times."
Colon, 26, allowed six hits, struck out 10 and walked two in what manager Charlie Manuel called one of his best performances. It was only the fifth time all season Seattle was held without a run.
"It didn't look like we had a chance with him," Seattle's Mark McLemore said. "He was on, he hit his spots, he was up and down, he was in and out. It's the old song: Good pitching beats good hitting. That's what happened today. That's probably the best I've ever seen him pitch."
Two years after an embarrassing postseason outing, Colon dominated the team few slowed all season, getting his final strikeout on a 99-mph pitch past McLemore in the eighth.
Boone was visibly angry after Colon's pitch to the outside corner was called for a third strike in the fifth inning by plate umpire Steve Rippley. Boone had some words for Rippley as he headed for the dugout.
"Bartolo, what can I say about him? You guys saw him," Manuel said. "He pitched a pretty good ballgame."
Colon also was helped by his defense. Kenny Lofton made a running catch of a hard-hit ball by Suzuki in center field in the fifth. And first baseman Jim Thome stopped a line drive down the first-base line by John Olerud in the fourth that was turned for a double play.
Colon struck out Olerud three times. Seattle's first baseman was hitting .302 coming into the game. The Mariners had runners in scoring position only five times.
Cleveland, which has had trouble in playoff openers, needed someone to step up against the Mariners. Seattle won 116 games in the regular season and led the AL West from day one, clinching Sept. 19.
"Today I was No. 1 for the team because I was on the mound," Colon said.
Many didn't give the Indians much of a chance against the Mariners. Since 1995, the Indians are 3-8 in playoff openers.
"He had good velocity the whole game and was quick to plate," Mariners manager Lou Piniella said of Colon. "At the same time, he didn't walk many hitters. That's a pretty good combination."
Colon threw a four-hitter this year against Seattle on Aug. 3 in Cleveland. He lost 2-1 against left-hander Jamie Moyer that day, but had 10 strikeouts and four walks.
His outing Tuesday was such a contrast from his previous playoff start.
In Game 4 of the division series against the Boston Red Sox in 1999, Colon didn't make it out of the second inning. Pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career, he gave up seven earned runs and the Indians lost 23-7.
Colon was asked before this series began about his poor outing in his last start, an 8-4 Indians' loss on the road to the Kansas City Royals last Thursday.
Colon lasted only 1 1-3 innings, giving up six runs in the second inning.
Those numbers have been forgotten now.
On Tuesday, he pitched deep into the game even after his shoulder became tight.
"But he was still throwing hard all the way through to the eighth," Manuel said. "And that's when I thought Bartolo pitched a super game today."
Colon has a tendency to take an inning or two off if things aren't going his way, but he was locked in from the start.
"With Bartolo, you just never know when he might lose it for an inning," said third baseman Travis Fryman. "But he lived today on the outside corner, and he was still throwing 98 or 99 in the eighth inning."