ARLINGTON, Texas – Bartolo Colon turned back time on Saturday.
OK, so we’re only talking a few months. But the A’s starting pitcher was a carbon copy of the man who buzzed through American League lineups for the entire first half of 2013.
The 40-year-old right-hander was superb in a 1-0 victory over the Texas Rangers, outdueling Yu Darvish and turning in his best start in nearly two months. He scattered seven hits over eight innings, striking out seven and walking one.
It was needed on an afternoon when Oakland’s hitters were baffled by Darvish, who lost his fourth 1-0 game of the season. He’s just the third American League pitcher, going back to 1916, to lose four 1-0 decisions in the same year.
The A’s have taken the first two of this three-game series, and they’ve drained any hope the Rangers had this weekend of changing the complexion of the American League West race.
Oakland now leads Texas by 5 ½ games in the division, its largest lead since a six-game cushion on July 29. The A’s magic number to clinch the West sits at 10.
The A’s are 10-3 in September; the Rangers are 2-10.
Starting pitching report
Colon said after his last start that he felt he had more power behind his pitches.
He wasn’t lying.
He hit 96 miles per hour on a strikeout of Mitch Moreland to end the fourth, stranding runners at second and third. Moreland went down swinging again on 95 mph heat in the seventh. Colon registered 94 mph on his 100th pitch, which came in the eighth inning.
That’s a trait he showed early in the season – the ability to dial up the velocity in key situations in the late innings.
All along, Colon combined that with the excellent movement he typically has on his pitches. It’s a good development for the A’s if he maintains that for the rest of the regular season and beyond.
After A’s manager Bob Melvin passed over Grant Balfour to get the save in Friday’s win, Balfour was on the mound for the ninth Saturday. He retired the first two batters but issued a walk to Mitch Moreland. Then he got pinch hitter David Murphy looking on a fastball to end it for his 38th save.
At the plate
The A’s got to Darvish for a run in the first on Brandon Moss’ double that scored Josh Donaldson. But they mustered just four hits in seven innings against the Japanese right-hander, who struck out 10 and walked one. It was his 12th 10-strikeout game of the season, which leads the majors.
This was the Darvish that the rest of the majors is accustomed to seeing. The Rangers right-hander came in with a 4.86 career ERA against the A’s and had lost his last five starts against them. His overall ERA since joining the majors in 2012 was 3.38 entering Saturday.
In the field
Colon even came up big with the glove. He reached down to stab Elvis Andrus’ sharp comebacker in the third and start a 1-6-3 double play. With the way the starting pitchers dealt, it’s no surprise this was an errorless game.
An announced turnout of 36,067 – not mention a FOX national audience – saw a pitching matchup that was as good as advertised.
Jarrod Parker (11-6, 3.55) matches up with Martin Perez (9-4, 3.6) in Sunday’s 12:05 p.m. series finale. Perez beat the A’s at the Coliseum on Sept. 3, part of a six-start winning streak that was snapped in his last outing against Pittsburgh.