BOSTON -- It was Bartolo Colon's winter ball performance of 2010-11 that first gained him attention. Yankees bench coach Tony Pena told the team that Colon was throwing in the low-to-mid 90s, with his two-seam fastball moving all over the place.
The Yankees signed Colon, and because he had pitched so extensively in winter ball, they assumed that at some stage of the 2011 season, he would begin to lose his stuff. After all, he had missed the entire 2010 season, and hadn't thrown more than 99.1 innings since 2005.
Sure enough, Colon faded in the second half, the late life disappearing from his fastball. After posting a 3.20 ERA before the All-Star break, in 90 innings, his ERA jumped to 4.96 in the second half.
"I think he was just worn down," one rival evaluator said. "If you include what he did in winter ball, he had basically pitched a full season by the time he got to July."
The same evaluator noted that Colon did not pitch in winter ball before opening the 2012 season. "He'll keep it going longer," the evaluator said. "I bet he has a really good year."
Colon is off to an excellent start, posting a 2.63 ERA in his first four starts, and in his last outing the other day, he threw 38 consecutive strikes. Colon has allowed just one homer in his first 27.1 innings, with two walks and 19 strikeouts.
He could be one of the most sought-after trade targets, and maybe sooner rather than later. Colon's base salary for this season is a miniscule $2 million, far less than some of the alternatives that will pop up on the market, and Oakland's front office is clearly devoted to the idea of building the team for 2015-16. The Athletics could be motivated to move Colon when they perceive his value is at its highest, rather than waiting until later in the year -- before a possible late-season fade for the right-hander, who turns 39 next month.
"Unbelievable power to right field," Jackson said.
Yep. Kemp's home run spray chart so far:
Right -- 2
Right center -- 4
Center -- 2
Left center -- 0
Left -- 0
• When the Red Sox remade Clay Buchholz for the 2010 season, a primary focus was to get him to work on his sinker -- to get his fastball down in the zone. So it caught the attention of Yankees hitters Friday that they saw almost no two-seam fastballs from Buchholz. He threw his fastball up in the zone, and they hit it, hard; according to Elias, Buchholz is only the third Red Sox pitcher in history to allow five homers in a start against the Yankees.
From ESPN Stats & Information, how Buchholz lost to the Yankees:
A) Buchholz struggled to keep his fastball down. 76 percent (38 of 50 fastballs) were up or belt high, and the Yankees went 6-for-13 with four home runs. This season, opponents are hitting .424 in at-bats ending with a Buchholz fastball up or belt high.
B) The Yankees hit Buchholz when facing two-strike counts, going 5-for-12 with three home runs.
C) The Yankees missed 5.9 percent of Buchholz's pitches they swung at (3 of 51), marking the lowest swing-and-miss percentage for Buchholz since the start of the 2009 season.
What we saw in the Red Sox last September has now melded into their start in 2012; their pitching continues to be terrible. Since Sept. 1, 2011, the Red Sox are 11-29, and their starting pitchers have an ERA of 6.72. By the end of the game Friday, Fenway fans chanted "We want Tito," referring to Terry Francona. But unless the starting pitching gets better, it doesn't matter whether the manager is Bobby Valentine or Francona or Joe McCarthy or Darrell Johnson or John McNamara or Grady Little. The rotation has been surrendering about two to three runs per game more than almost all other rotations over the last 40 games. No manager can win with that.
Bobby Valentine is already at a crossroads in Boston, writes Bob Klapisch.
The Yankees spoiled the Fenway party, writes David Waldstein. On a day to remember, the Red Sox played a game to forget, writes Dan Shaughnessy. Fenway Park is the biggest star of the team, writes Scott Lauber.
How Nova beat the Red Sox:
A) Nova threw 30 sliders, his second-most ever in a start. The Red Sox went 1-for-6 with a strikeout in at-bats ending with a slider.
B) The Red Sox put runners in scoring position in four of Nova's six innings, but went 0-for-10 with two strikeouts in those at-bats. This season, opponents are hitting .107 (3-for-28) with nine strikeouts against Nova in at-bats ending with runners in scoring position.
C) Nova went to one three-ball count against the Red Sox, getting Jason Repko to line out. In his last eight regular-season starts, Nova has not issued a walk.
Most consecutive decisions won in Yankees history:
Roger Clemens -- 16 (2001)
Ivan Nova -- 15 (2011-12)
Whitey Ford -- 14 (1961)
Steve Sundra -- 14 (1938-39)
Jack Chesbro -- 14 (1904)
• As the Yankees took batting practice, Reggie Jackson walked over to a reporter. "Do you see [Eric] Chavez?" he asked. "He's killing the ball."
Almost as if on cue, Chavez rocketed a ball over the home bullpen, and over an entrance to the stands behind the bullpen, a shot that probably traveled 440 feet or so. He blasted the next pitch into the home bullpen.
"He looks strong," Jackson said.
And a few hours later, after Chavez had his first two-homer game in years, Jackson told him that had seen things in his swing before the first pitch was thrown. Chavez put on a show, writes Joel Sherman.
• Charles Steinberg, right-hand man to Larry Lucchino, was the architect of the memorable final day at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore at the end of the 1991 season, so it was not a surprise that the Red Sox borrowed from that script in honoring the 100-year-old Fenway Park. After the last game at Memorial Stadium, Brooks Robinson jogged out to his position, in uniform -- with no announcement -- followed by Frank Robinson, and Jim Palmer, and the rest of the Orioles.
Jim Rice was the first onto the field at Fenway on Friday, followed by Dwight Evans and Bill Buckner, with no word from the public address announcer, because no words were needed. Dozens of players emerged, and the last to emerge, brought to the center of the diamond, were former second baseman Bobby Doerr and former shortstop Johnny Pesky, and tears began streaming down Pesky's face. He was not alone in his emotions.
Martinez had a great time.
• Albert Pujols went 0-for-4 with a walk to end his nine-game hitting streak. He still has not hit a home run in 58 at-bats this season and has not hit one in his last 87 at-bats dating back to last season -- the second-longest streak of his career.
Moves, deals and decisions
2. The Tigers added some pitching depth.
5. The Jays are promoting a right-hander to make his debut today, as Ken Fidlin writes.
Dings and dents
8. A Padres pitcher could be having surgery soon.
A) Detwiler threw 43 percent off-speed (up from 24 percent in first two starts). The Marlins went 0-for-9 in at-bats ending with an off-speed pitch (0-for-5 with curveball, 0-for-2 with both slider and change).
B) Detwiler used the off-speed with two strikes, throwing 12 of 21 pitches. Overall, the Marlins went 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts in at-bats going to two strikes (0-for-8, four strikeouts with off-speed pitches).
C) The Marlins went after off-speed pitches, swinging at 15 and missing seven. The 46.7 percent missed is the third-most for Detwiler since 2009.
3. The Royals' early-season troubles continue: They hit into a triple play, and lost their eighth consecutive decision.
4. The Reds picked up win No. 10,000.
5. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched the Indians to a win.
6. The Twins won with a reshuffled deck, as John Shipley writes.
12. The Diamondbacks have dropped four straight, and counting.
13. The Giants used their whole committee to get the last outs of their extra-inning win in New York, as Henry Schulman writes.
14. The losing streak came to an end for the Angels.
15. The Padres are owned in their own park by the Phillies.
17. An inside-the-park homer to start the game was the only run the Pirates scored.
By The Numbers, from ESPN Stats & Info:
631: Career HRs hit by Alex Rodriguez, moving past Ken Griffey Jr. into sole possession of fifth all-time
10,000: Wins by the Reds franchise, becoming the sixth team to win 10,000 games
• Jim Leyland is changing his ways, he says, and will only answer questions, not tell stories.
• The Reds' young catcher can hit, as John Fay writes.
• Oakland is stealing a lot of bases, as Ron Kroichick writes.
• The Jays should quit whining, writes Steve Buffery.
• The Indians have cut down on their strikeouts.
• Mike Scioscia says there's no need to panic over the Angels' slow start.
• The Nationals' groundskeeper is always on patrol, writes Steve Hendrix.
• Only rain has managed to slow down the Rangers.
• Michael Bourn's bathroom break was the talk of the Braves' clubhouse.
And today will be better than yesterday.