Thursday, January 18, 2018
Sports

Mets announcer honored to make Colon homer call

With two outs in the second inning and a pitcher with a .089 career average at the plate, an announcer can usually start thinking about the transition to the commercial break.

When Bartolo Colon stepped into the batter's box Saturday night in San Diego against James Shields, though, Mets commentator Gary Cohen was paying close attention — if only for the possibility that the 285-pound pitcher's helmet could fly off yet again. But once Colon took a mighty cut with a 1-and-1 count, Cohen recalled Sunday morning, "it was instantaneous from the time the ball left his bat this was something incredibly special."

His voice rising in a mix of shock, jubilance and exhilaration, Cohen roared: "He drives one! Deep leftfield! Back goes (Justin) Upton! Back near the wall! It's outta here! Bartolo has done it! The impossible has happened!"

It sounded more like the call of a postseason walkoff home run, but as fans watched video of the two-run shot over and over Saturday night, nearly everyone seemed to agree it fit.

"The accumulation of elements here: his age, his weight, his former ineptitude at the plate and his personality all kind of tie together into an incredibly special package," Cohen said in a phone interview about 14 hours later.

With his 43rd birthday three weeks away, Colon became the oldest player to hit his first major-league home run, helping the Mets beat the Padres 6-3. By Sunday morning, Cohen had received plenty of excited text messages and emails about his call on the SNY production that aired on PIX in the New York area.

He and his colleagues had speculated before that because Colon is so strong, he could hit the ball a long way if he ever made solid contact, but they never really expected to call a home run.

Cohen, who is in his 28th season working Mets games, was speaking for the club's fans when he later proclaimed: "This is one of the great moments in the history of baseball."

"He's such a beloved figure," Cohen said Sunday. "I'm just happy to be a part of it."

Mets manager Terry Collins got in on the fun: Before Sunday's game, he listed Colon as "right-handed pinch-hitter."

Shields, who does not have a home run in 137 plate appearances, said Colon earned the right to enjoy the moment. "Absolutely not. Absolutely not," Shields said when asked if Colon too long to round the bases. "I think if I hit a home run, my first home run, I'd be trotting pretty slow myself. I am not a very fast guy either."

4K INNING: RHP Tyler Duffey became the first Twins pitcher in nearly four years to strike out four batters in an inning. But a wild pitch on Avisail Garcia's strikeout in the seventh allowed him to reach and score on Dioner Navarro's double as the White Sox took a 3-1 lead.

ASTROS: RHP Lance McCullers, a former Jesuit High standout who has been out all season with right shoulder soreness, struck out seven in five scoreless innings of his first rehabilitation start for Triple-A Fresno on Saturday night. Manager A.J. Hinch said the team will see how he responds over the next few days.

DODGERS: RHP Mike Bolsinger, out all season with a strained left oblique, allowed two runs and three hits in four innings in his first rehab start with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday.

RANGERS: RHP A.J. Griffin went on the 15-day DL a day after leaving his start with stiffness in his throwing shoulder.

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