Bartolo Colon Overpowers Rangers

Monday, April 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) -- One by one, the Texas Rangers stepped into the batter's box with a pretty good idea which pitch Bartolo Colon would be throwing.

But preparing for a 98 mph fastball is one thing, hitting it is something else.

Colon threw harder as the game progressed and dominated the AL's best-hitting club for eight innings Sunday to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 9-2 rout of the Rangers.

Colon gave up five hits, struck out 10, threw a 100 mph fastball in the seventh inning and overpowered Alex Rodriguez and Co.

"That's the best stuff we'll see this year," Rangers manager Johnny Oates said.

Colon (3-2) threw 132 pitches to win at home for the first time in four starts this season. The right-hander didn't give up an earned run until the seventh and dominated a Texas team comfortably leading the league in batting average, hits, doubles, runs and RBIs.

"I was watching on TV in the clubhouse," said Cleveland reliever Bob Wickman, who knew early on that his services would probably not be needed. "And his fastball isn't straight as an arrow. It moves. There are guys that throw 95-96 and it's straight as a string, but not his ball. It's something."

Juan Gonzalez and Marty Cordova each had three RBIs for the Indians, who after losing the series opener 11-9, outscored the Rangers 16-5 in winning the final two games.

And Cleveland's pitching was the reason why.

In the last 23 innings of the series, Indians pitchers limited the Rangers to six runs and a .185 average while retiring the side in order 11 times.

"Our pitchers followed the scouting report," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "The Rangers are a team you've got to pitch to. You've got to move the ball around, up and down. You can't throw the ball over and you can't throw the same pitch two times in a row."

The only time Colon was in real trouble came in the seventh when he walked Chad Curtis with two outs and gave up an RBI single to Gabe Kapler. With two Indians relievers warming up, Colon walked Doug Mirabelli, who had struck out in his two previous at-bats.

That's when Colon decided enough was enough.

Rusty Greer didn't come close to touching the 100 mph heater for strike two. Then, after striking Greer out on a 99 mph four-seam fastball, Colon spun off the mound and pumped his fist.

Colon explained that he celebrated because he thought Greer was his final batter. But Manuel sent him out there for the eighth even though Colon's pitch count was already at 118.

"They asked me go back and I told them I had some pitches left," Colon said. "I wish I could have finished."

Gonzalez, among the league leaders in eight offensive categories, went 3-for-4 and has 20 RBIs in his last 17 games.

Cordova hit a three-run homer in the fifth when the Indians scored four runs and chased starter Doug Davis (2-2).

Signed to a minor league contract in December, Cordova made Cleveland's roster after batting .442 during spring training. He has made the most of his playing time, hitting .405 (17-for-42) with four homers and 12 RBIs in 11 starts.

"It's fine with me if he's going to hit .400," Manuel said.

"It's OK if he hits .450, too."

Rangers All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez missed his second straight game with a bruised left heel.

Notes: The Rangers had only two extra-base hits after getting 34 in their previous seven games. ... Mirabelli struck out twice and has fanned in 11 of 17 at-bats this season. ... Indians 2B Roberto Alomar was ejected in the eighth by plate umpire Paul Schrieber after arguing a called third strike.