At 40 years old, Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon is nearly twice the age of some of the Twins hitters he faced Friday.
On this night, the crafty veteran showed that age is just a number.
Colon held Minnesota scoreless through six innings as the A’s routed the Twins 11-0 and inched closer to clinching the American League West division. Oakland’s magic number is now at two after Texas lost Friday night, meaning the A’s could clinch the division this weekend against Minnesota.
The 40-year-old Colon had plenty to do with that. Carrying a 9-8 record and career 4.14 ERA in 23 games against the Twins, Colon held Minnesota to just five hits over six innings.
“Colon pretty much dominated us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Not very much fun for us in our dugout. A lot of strikeouts again. Facing a guy like Colon, you’re probably going to get some. I think we had six called third strikes, something we’ve been preaching. … Not a good night for our baseball team and not a lot of fun.”
The only extra-base hit allowed came with two outs in the top of the sixth inning as left-hander Josh Willingham doubled to left against his former club. But Colon stranded Willingham on second base as he got first baseman Chris Parmelee to pop out for the final out of the inning — and the final out of the night for the veteran Colon.
Colon doesn’t walk many batters. In fact, he averaged just 1.4 walks per nine innings entering Friday’s game (27 walks in 178 ⅓ innings). But Parmelee was able to coax a walk against Colon in the fourth inning after a seven-pitch at-bat. That was the only free pass Colon allowed, however, as his impressive walk rate remained low.
The eight strikeouts by Colon were the second-most in a game this season. His season high was nine strikeouts over seven innings against Houston. Colon ended four of the six innings he pitched with strikeouts and struck out three batters in the top of the second. In all, Minnesota fanned 13 times in Friday’s loss. It marks the 59th time this season that the Twins struck out 10 or more times in a game.
“Fantastic pitching,” said Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick. “He comes out here every day and throws 97 percent fastballs and still strikes people out and gets people out like he’s throwing a big curveball and a great slider. He pounds the strike zone and makes them put balls in play. When they don’t, he’s blowing it by them.”
While he probably won’t win it, Colon’s name will surely be tossed around in Cy Young discussions. Thanks to Friday’s six scoreless innings against the Twins, Colon is now 17-6 with a 2.64 ERA. He’s tied for the second-most wins in the American League, trailing Detroit’s Max Scherzer, who has 20. And Colon’s ERA is also second in the AL behind only Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez (2.61).
Friday marked the first and only time Minnesota will face Colon this season. For the reeling Twins, who fell to 65-88 with the loss, that’s definitely a good thing.
FOX Sports North’s Kevin Gorg contributed to this report.