Colon roughed up early, but hangs in there

NEW YORK -- When Bartolo Colon struggled through his four-run, 26-pitch first inning Saturday, New York Mets manager Terry Collins wasn't happy. But he also couldn't panic.

For one thing, after Jonathon Niese left Friday's game just 12 pitches in after being hit by a line drive, the Mets' bullpen couldn't afford another early exit from a starting pitcher. For another, Colon's experience and history told Collins things would get better.

Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon

#40 SP
New York Mets

2014 STATS

  • GM17
  • W8

  • L7

  • BB17

  • K82

  • ERA4.04

Things did get better, but never good enough for a Mets team that fell back to 11 games under .500 with a 5-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.

The Mets might still wonder what the deal is with Colon and first innings. The veteran right-hander has an 8.47 first-inning ERA, one of the worst in the majors (but, surprisingly, not the worst). Colon has allowed first-inning runs in four consecutive starts, and has allowed 15 of his 39 extra-base hits in the first inning.

Colon has a 3.24 ERA after the first inning. His opponents' batting average, .351 in the first inning, falls to .244 after the first.

"I have no idea why," Colon said, through an interpreter. "I was just having trouble getting my pitches where I wanted in the first inning [Saturday]."

The bad first, which included a three-run home run by backup catcher Robinson Chirinos, ended up sinking the Mets. But Colon's ability to recover kept the night from being a complete disaster. Colon made it through seven innings, and gave his team a chance to get back in the game.

"He's a professional," Collins said. "He knows exactly where we stand. He knew we needed innings from him. And as we've seen through the year, as the game goes on he gets better."

Gee's ready: The Mets decided against making an immediate move to put Niese on the disabled list, but that certainly seems to be the likely course Sunday. Collins said the team wants to wait to see how both Niese and Dillon Gee are feeling Sunday, when both would normally be scheduled to throw bullpen sessions.

While Niese declined to speak with reporters after Saturday's game, Gee made it clear he doesn't consider Sunday to be a real test for him.

"I feel like I'm ready," said Gee, who made a rehab start Friday for the Brooklyn Cyclones. "I could have thrown a bullpen [Saturday] if I wanted to."