Sunday, September 17, 2023

Bartolo Colon Retires As Met, & Amazin's Rally Past Reds

Bartolo Colon waves to the crowd before throwing the first pitch. Photo by Jason Schott.

Bartolo Colon, one of the most colorful characters who became a fan favorite in Flushing, officially retired as a Met on Sunday.

A member of the 2015 National League championship team, Colon pitched for the Mets from 2014 to 2016, winning 44 games as a Met. He pitched in 98 games with the Amazin's, 95 of them starts, and he went 44-34, with a 3.98 ERA, and struck out 415 in 588 2/3 innings.

Terry Collins, the Mets Manager for Colon's entire tenure as a Met who is also beloved by the Flushing faithful, presented Colon with a framed jersey during his press conference before the game. 

Bartolo Colon and Terry Collins. @Mets.

Colon earned the win in the fourth game of the 2015 National League Championship Series, when the Mets completed the sweep of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field to clinch the pennant.

What was arguably Colon's most memorable moment as a Met came on May 7, 2016, in San Diego, when he hit a home run off the Padres' James Shields. He became the oldest player (42 years and 349 days old) to hit his first Major League home run.

This was when Colon really became a folk hero in Flushing, with his nickname Big Sexy taking hold. For the occasion on Sunday, fans received "Big Sexy" long-sleeve t-shirts, in the mode of a cologne ad. There also was a slickly-produced video with Colon and Mr. Met of what a commercial for "Big Sexy By Bartolo" would look like, which surely entertained fans.

There was no doubt who was being honored on Sunday afternoon. Photo by Jason Schott.

That was because Colon had pitched nearly his entire career in the American League before that, starting with the Cleveland Indians from 1997 to 2002.

Cleveland traded him to the Montreal Expos halfway through the 2002 season, and he went 10-4 with both clubs, giving him a 20-win campaign. That half-season was his sole experience in the National League, where pitchers hit until 2019.

Colon then pitched for the Chicago White Sox in 2003, Anaheim Angels from 2004 to 2007, the Boston Red Sox in 2008, the White Sox again in 2009, and after a year off, he pitched for the Yankees in 2011. He pitched for the Oakland Athletics in 2012 and '13 before his three-year stint with the Mets, and finished his career with the Atlanta Braves (2017), Minnesota Twins ('17), and Texas Rangers (2018).

Colon won 247 games in his 21-year career, which might be worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. His best season was with the Angels in 2005, when he went 21-8, with a 3.48 ERA (earned run average). In his three seasons with  the Mets, he won 15 games in 2014 (15-13, 4.09 ERA, followed by a 14-13, 4.16 ERA campaign in 2015; and that built up to his 2016 season, in which he went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA at 43 years old.

Jose Quintana reacting emphatically to a pitch fired in to the Reds'  Hunter Renfroe in the third inning on Sunday afternoon. Photo by Jason Schott.

METS 8, REDS 4: The festive atmosphere at Citi Field, with a crowd of 38,044, on a beautiful Sunday, continued with the game.

On a day in which a pitcher was celebrated, Jose Quintana turned in another solid outing. The left-hander went 6 2/3 innings, and allowed just two runs (both earned), while scattering eight hits and a walk, with two strikeouts. 

Quintana, who did not debut until July 20, which surely hampered the Mets in the first three months of the season, improved to 3-5 with a 3.02 ERA. 

While a veteran pitcher delivered, the Mets' offensive prospects delivered in this one.

Catcher Francisco Alvarez laced a two-run double in the third inning that gave the Mets a 3-1 edge at the time. That was his 12th double of the season, and it gave him 56 RBI in 112 games.

Then, in the fifth, Mark Vientos, who was playing third base in this one after Ronny Mauricio was there the past two nights, laced an RBI single to make it 4-2.

Vientos then was one of three Mets to come on in on Daniel Vogelbach's double that blew it open in the seventh inning, as the Mets went up 7-2.

Two batters later, Mauricio, who bounced into a double play and struck out to this point, got an RBI single to make it 8-2. That was Mauricio's seventh RBI in 13 games since he was called up on September 1.

The Mets (69-80) dropped two of three in this series to Cincinnati (78-73), who is a half-game out of the final Wild Card Spot, but they had a winning homestand.

Earlier in the week, the Mets took three of four from another Wild Card contender, the Arizona Diamonbacks, so that gave them four wins out of seven games on this penultimate homestand of the regular season.

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