(BaseballStL) — A rally rarely begins with a pitcher. It almost never begins with a pitcher who has 10 hits in his entire career.
Baseball’s propensity for the unexpected was reaffirmed Wednesday when the Mets took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning, sparked by Bartolo Colon’s bat.
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The 265-pound veteran had only 123 MLB at bats in 17 seasons before the sixth inning and had never drawn a walk.
With no extra-base hits on his resume, the odds of his first coming less than a month after his 41st birthday were almost incalculably low.
Still, baseball found a way.
“It was one of those things where I thought there was no way he was swinging,” Cardinal starter Lance Lynn said at his locker after the game. “You don’t expect him to be the one to start something like that.”
On an 0-1 count, Colon ripped a shot down the left field line into the corner, and casually trotted into second for the first time in his career.
“I think you take anybody at this level for granted on anything and it’s going to come back and bite you,” Mike Matheny said after the game.
With respect to the Cardinal skipper, Colon certainly seemed the one exception. He hadn’t had a hit since June 10, 2005. Lynn was rolling, having locked up the Mets with just two hits through five innings. No one in Earth thought it could happen.
“I guess he was due? I don’t know,” Lynn said. “It was a good swing in all honesty. I was surprised by it but I have to make a better pitch.”
With the spell broken in the most unlikely of ways, New York charged. Eric Young Jr. traded places with Colon two pitches later to tie the game. Daniel Murphy followed with a ground out to move Young, and David Wright scored him with a single into right.
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It looked like Wright would pick up a double on the play, but he slid off the bag and was tagged out at second.
Two walks followed before Lynn could seal the hatch with a strikeout. He was behind every hitter but Murphy in the inning, but it was Colon’s plate appearance the turned the tide.
“In all honestly that at bat right there cost us the game. If I make a couple good pitches there and get him out, who knows what that inning would entail?” Lynn said.
On the mound the 41-year-old looked more at home. Going eight innings on 86 pitches, he held the Cardinals to just four hits. The only run the Birds managed off him came when Matt Carpenter opened the contest with a homer.
“He did all the little things right. He fielded his position well, the heat didn’t seem to affect him at all, he was in control of the game the whole way,” Matheny said. “Carp put him in a bad spot early on then he found his groove.”