There is a baseball saying that goes something like this: You see something new every time you watch a game. What transpired in the Mets-Cardinals game Wednesday qualified and was a sight to behold. It felt rarer than a no-hitter, rarer than one batter hitting three home runs or for the cycle.
Bartolo Colon doubled.
Colon bent his knees, swung his giant hips, reached out his bat, and pulled a fastball down the third-base line. He carefully rounded first and lightly jogged into second, as his teammates waved towels from the dugout. This was his first hit in about nine years. He had only 10 hits in his previous 122 at-bats, and he had never doubled.
And Colon did not have much time to catch his breath. The next batter, Eric Young Jr., doubled, too, and Colon chugged around third, his stomach bouncing as he ran, and cruised home standing up. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 285 pounds, he looked like an offensive lineman on the bases. He took his time walking back to the dugout.
Colon could be allowed to bask in the moment because he was also working on a gem. He finished having thrown eight strong innings, holding the Cardinals to one run on four hits, as the Mets beat the Cardinals, 3-2, at Busch Stadium.
The Mets had sorely needed an effort like that from the Colon. Before, they had lost 11 of their previous 14 games, with the All-Star break fast approaching.
Their identity was starting to take firmer shape. They would go as far as their starters could take them, and could only hope for help from their offense and bullpen. Entering Wednesday, their offense ranked 23rd in runs scored and their bullpen had blown 12 saves. Their starters had compiled 44 quality starts, the fifth most in baseball, and were credited with 19 wins, tied for the fourth fewest.
Colon had pitched better of late, as if he had realized he would have to win all on his own. In his previous five starts, he had compiled a 1.78 earned run average and averaged six strikeouts per outing, and the Mets had won four of the five games.
Colon was just as impressive Wednesday. His only mistake was allowing a leadoff home run to Matt Carpenter. After that, he cruised through the Cardinals’ order. He needed only 86 pitches to go eight innings and surely could have finished the game himself, had the Mets not pinch-hit for him in the ninth with a runner on base.
His play of late had also put the Mets in an interesting situation.
If the Mets stay on their current path, they could consider trading Colon before the nonwaiver trade deadline July 31. Sandy Alderson, the Mets’ general manager, did something last year when he flipped two veterans — Marlon Byrd and John Buck — for two young prospects. Colon, despite his age and expensive contract, is presumably pitching well enough to garner some interest on the trade market.
In the meantime, though, Manager Terry Collins has repeatedly said his goal is to win now. The topic was broached again Wednesday, when Collins was asked about Wilmer Flores. Considered one of the team’s top prospects, Flores had been relegated to the bench. On Wednesday, he was starting in just his fourth game in 14 days.
“We got to start winning — we don’t have time to develop players right at the moment,” Collins said, adding: “Unless the time comes where, all of the sudden, hey, we’re going to go with our young players and get them better, right now we’ve got to try to win some games. Not that he can’t help us win games. Don’t get me wrong.”
Flores was 1 for 4, with a run scored in the seventh, on another double by Young, which gave the Mets a 3-1 lead.