Baseball / Sports

Colon beats former team as Mets top A's, 10-1

NEW YORK--Bartolo Colon put one over on the Oakland A's Tuesday.

Oakland's hitters thought they knew Colon from the 28 wins he piled up with the A's the last two seasons. It turned out, after a 10-1 loss to Colon and the New York Mets, they didn't know as much as they thought.

"I knew he was a little different when I saw him throw three straight sliders to (catcher Stephen) Vogt," said Brandon Moss, who had one of the A's four hits off Colon and scored the club's only run.

Vogt was simply stunned.

"In all the times I caught him and the times I watched him, I never saw him do that," Vogt said. "That surprised me."

Colon, 41, got off to a rocky beginning with the Mets, going 2-5 with a 5.84 ERA in his first eight starts. Since then he's been closing in on the form he pitching for the A's, going 6-0 in seven starts with a 1.58 ERA. No pitcher in the big leagues has been better over that stretch.

"I forgot how much movement he has on his pitches," Vogt said. "It makes for frustrating night. I gave him a hug before the game, then that. But he can do that to teams."

Colon got off to something of a rocky start Tuesday, too, with Moss's two-out single and a run-scoring double from Yoenis Cespedes. From that point on, the A's got just two singles and a walk. Colon was mostly throwing fastballs, but as the three sliders to Vogt might suggest, he threw just enough in the way of off-speed pitches to grind the usually relentless Oakland offense to a halt.

The man who replaced Colon as the veteran presence in the Oakland starting rotation, Scott Kazmir, has spent the first half of the season putting up numbers that would make Colon proud. Tuesday was not more of the same.

Kazmir was mauled for three of the four home runs the Mets hit in his poorest start of the season. The left-hander hadn't allowed more than two runs in a start in his last five appearances and hadn't allowed more than four runs in a start all season.

That streak went up in smoke in the second inning when the Mets jumped him for three runs, then came back in the third with four more as the A's (48-30) lost back-to-back games for the first time since June 9-10.

Kazmir, now 9-3, saw a four-game winning streak come to an end.

"Every changeup I threw came in belt-high or higher," Kazmir said without being able to explain why that pitch got away from him. "And they weren't missing anything up in the zone."

Kazmir said he didn't believe it was a mechanical issue with his delivery, but he had not found a reason why his pitches, which have been reliably down in the strike zone the first 15 starts his season, should suddenly take a walk on the wild side

"Usually when you start doing that you're a little bit gassed, a little tired," he said. "But the bottom line there is I've got to make a pitch."

Kazmir came into the game with the best ERA in the American League at 2.08, but it's up to 2.66 now and he'll have to settle for being in the top five.

And Colon wasn't the only member of last year's green-and-gold contingent to do harm to the A's cause Tuesday. Outfielder Chris Young, who could never quite fit in to the A's platoon plans a year ago, hit two solo homers and came within a couple of feet of a three-homer game.

He may have needed it, because New York media was abuzz with the thought that Young, hitting .209 after Tuesday, might be released with the Mets needing roster space.

The A's didn't release Young in similar circumstances last year because they believed he had the talent to contribute. And they still believe it.

Vogt said Kazmir gave up his homer to Young on a changeup that was too high in the strike zone and reliever Jim Johnson was tagged on another pitch up in the zone, a curve.

"I know the stats say he struggled last year and his struggling again this year," Vogt said of Young. "But he's a good hitter. And he's pretty focused, pointing to this series."

--Catcher Derek Norris wasn't in the A's starting lineup after being hit once again by a backswing Sunday. Norris said he's fine and could play if needed. Manager Bob Melvin said he thought so, too, "but I wasn't going to use him tonight."

--Josh Reddick was back on the roster and in the lineup in right field and was the only A's player to work Colon for a walk. Reddick had missed 20 games after hyper extending his right knee. But he spent four days on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Sacramento and said the injured knee was no issue.

--The A's left first baseman Kyle Blanks back in the Bay Area, putting him on the disabled list and hoping in two weeks' time his troublesome strained left calf muscle calms.

--Starter Sonny Gray spent his off-day Monday at the College World Series watching his old school, Vanderbilt, play the first game of a best-of-three final against Virginia. "It was awesome to go in there and see that," Gray said. "I met up with some of my coaches and players I knew." It didn't hurt to see Vanderbilt beat Virginia 9-8 in Game 1.

(c)2014 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

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