Bartolo Colon gave new meaning to the phrase “pounding the strike zone” in his Wednesday night start agains the Angels. And, no, that isn’t a fat joke, as far as you know, but rather a way of pointing out that Colon at one point in the game threw 38 consecutive strikes.
It was a streak that started with his second pitch of the fifth inning and did not end until the third batter of the eighth inning. As you probably guessed, Colon had a lot of success in between, fanning two batters while allowing just two hits.
What was so impressive about Colon’s relentless assault on the strike zone was how he did it. Of the 38 strikes, 14 were called strikes and Maicer Izturis in the first at-bat of the streak was the only player who saw more than four pitches in his at-bat. Furthermore, only three of the pitches involved were not fastballs. Granted, Bartolo Colon always throws a ton of fastballs, but that’s still awfully impressive. Add it all together and what you have is 13 batters that knew a fastball was coming and knew it was going to be in the strike zone and they still could do almost nothing about it.
As the wonderful PitchF/X map (via Brooks Baseball) above shows, almost none of the pitches during the streak were actually outside of the strike zone. The few balls you see there came after he broke the streak with a ball to Bobby Abreu, at which point Colon almost seem to come apart a bit, probably out of shock. So it wasn’t like Colon was just the beneficiary of the Angel batters swinging at a bunch of balls outside the zone. He just plain threw strikes. Turns out that is a recipe for success. Who knew?!
If there was ever a better argument to allow stem cell research in the United States, I don’t think I’ve heard it.