10/05/05 12:27 AM ET
Colon: I didn't do the job'
Ace recovers after four early runs, but he's disappointed
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Colon's line in Game 1 of the American League Division Series reads like the numbers of many winning pitchers: seven innings, eight hits, four earned runs, one walk, six strikeouts. Not necessarily good, but definitely not bad.
In fact, holding a high-octane offense like that of the New York Yankees to those numbers might be seen as a victory in itself.
But Colon, the Angels' unquestioned No. 1 starter, wasn't exactly partying after his team lost, 4-2, on Tuesday night.
"I'm ticked off that I didn't do the job," Colon said through an interpreter. "But overall, going seven innings is a plus, knowing how many pitches I had thrown early."
That was the problem.
Colon labored through the first two frames, almost getting out of two separate two-out jams but paying a dear price for all of his work.
In the first inning, he got Derek Jeter on a quick groundout and struck out Alex Rodriguez, getting the sellout crowd of 45,412 into a frenzy.
Then Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui hit singles to load the bases and Colon made a two-strike mistake to rookie Robinson Cano, who lofted a ball over left fielder Garret Anderson's head for a three-run double that ended up costing the Angels the game.
"I was looking to throw a fastball away, which I did, but maybe it was higher than I wanted," Colon said. "With two outs, I'm looking for a tap-out or a flyout. We got the flyout, but unfortunately it got over Garret's head. He hit it harder than I wanted him to."
Colon gave up another two-out run in the second when Jeter singled, Rodriguez was hit with a pitch and Giambi doubled down the right-field line.
All of a sudden, it was Yankees 4, Angels 0, and -- with a sharp Mike Mussina throwing strikes at the home team -- an unusually deflated Angel Stadium.
"Against any club, particularly a club like the Yankees have, you have to finish innings," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You have to finish hitters. ... After Bart settled in, he pitched terrific baseball. It's just the damage was done early.
"They got the big hit and they pitched very well tonight."
One could surmise that Colon got caught up in the playoff moment and tried to do too much with the responsibility of taking the ball in the biggest game of the Angels' season. Scioscia said that wasn't the case, however.
"I don't think he was too pumped up," Scioscia said. "Some balls were elevated, but his velocity was there. He was a pitch away from getting out of jams on several occasions.
"You have to give the other guys a little bit of credit. They laid off pitches, fouled off other pitches, and when they got pitches to hit they didn't miss them."
And even though Colon threw 24 pitches in the first inning and 23 in the second, he still battled on and gave the Angels a chance to come back.
Colon needed only 53 more pitches to get through the next five frames, allowing a walk and a single the rest of the way.
Despite the loss, Colon's teammates were impressed with his resolve.
"Four runs is not the end of the world," Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy said. "Bart did a good job keeping it there. We just couldn't string anything together."
"He did great," added first baseman Darin Erstad. "Obviously he got off to a slow start, but he settled down and did what he had to do. We have to be able to put some runs on the board for him."
The Angels did that all year, and that got Colon a 21-8 record and a solid chance at the Cy Young Award.
Colon fought through physical problems, too, including a lower-back problem that limited him in pitch counts over his last two regular-season starts. But Colon denied that his condition caused him to have trouble loosening up in the early stages of Game 1.
"My back wasn't really an issue," Colon said.
"Even if my back is bothering me, [the Yankees] still got me."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.