Bartolo Colon stepped out of the dugout for the ninth inning on Friday as the Target Field sound system blasted LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It.”
The stadium suddenly sprang to life as fans rose to their feet to see if the pitcher nicknamed “Big Sexy” could throw a few more of his dodgeballs by Rangers hitters and complete what he started.
Carlos Gomez hit a two-out home run, but Joe Mauer made a diving stab of Brett Nicholas’ hard grounder, then hustled to step on first base to get final out of the Twins’ 8-4 victory — as the 44-year-old Colon had Twins communications staffers digging into the record books.
At 44 years and 72 days, Colon became the oldest Twin to pitch a complete game; the second-oldest behind Jesse Orosco (46) to win a game; the oldest AL pitcher since Nolan Ryan (45) in 1992 to throw a complete game and win; and the oldest pitcher to beat the Rangers since Tommy John (45) in 1988.
“It means a lot to me and lot to my family,” said Colon, who has 37 career complete games. “At my age, to be able to throw nine innings, it’s impressive.”
Colon won his first game in four tries with the Twins. He’s now one of many pitchers to win a game with 10 organizations. LaTroy Hawkins, Mike Morgan and Ron Villone share the record with a win with 11 clubs; Hawkins and Morgan pitched for the Twins.
Colon didn’t look complete-game worthy in the first inning, when Shin-Soo Choo hit the first pitch of the game for a single, Elvis Andrus hit the second pitch for double and both scored on Adrian Beltre’s single for a 2-0 Rangers lead. But Colon turned the tables on Texas. He mixed his pitches, but when he threw his fastball, it dipped and darted away from enough barrels to stay in the game.
In nine innings, Colon gave up four runs on nine hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
“He settled in,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I thought he had a pretty good idea of what he wanted to do with each and every hitter. He made a couple 0-2 mistakes when he gave up some knocks, but he kept finding his way to get off the field. And the pitches stayed within reason.”
It helped that the Twins were able to sustain their offense. Brian Dozier led off the first and second innings with home runs, becoming the first Twins player to do so. Robbie Grossman belted a three-run homer, his first off a lefthander this season. The key hit was Eddie Rosario’s two-run single in the fifth that knocked Rangers starter Martin Perez out of the game. That gave the Twins a 7-3 lead, allowing Molitor to roll with Colon. Joe Mauer added a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Colon needed just 12 pitches to get through the eighth inning. Molitor asked Colon if he could finish the ninth, and the big man wanted the ball.
Fans stayed on the their feet throughout the ninth, roaring when Mauer made the last out. And they roared some more when Ervin Santana and Adalberto Mejia dumped ice water on Colon — as well as translator Carlos Font — during an interview with Fox Sports North.
“It was good for me, it was good for our team,” Colon said. “I think that was the first time I had water thrown onto me after a game. That feels good. And the fans, that was awesome.”