A's Bartolo Colon Bests Hisashi Iwakuma in Battle of AL West Aces

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJune 22, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 04:  Bartolo Colon #40 of the Oakland Athletics tosses the ball on the mound before he was taken out of a game against the New York Yankees in the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium on May 4, 2013  in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It's likely that at the beginning of the 2013 season, no one would have assumed that starting pitchers Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics and Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners would be anchoring their pitching staffs.

Colon pitched brilliantly last season—posting a 10-9 record and 3.43 ERA—before being slapped with a 50-game ban for violating MLB's joint drug program.

Iwakuma was injured at the beginning of last season and worked out of the bullpen before joining the starting rotation, ending his first year in the league with a respectable 9-5 record and 3.16 ERA in 30 appearances, 16 of them starts.

Yet on Friday, they matched up against each other, Colon with a 9-2 record and 2.89 ERA, which included a six-game winning game, and Iwakuma with a 7-2 record and impressive 2.06 ERA.

In fact, Safeco Field has proved to be a safe haven for both pitchers.

The A's got to Iwakuma quickly as he yielded a two-run home run to Yoenis Cespedes in the top of the first inning.

The Mariners answered right back, however, when second baseman Nick Franklin connected for a three-run shot off Colon in the bottom of the third.

Colon settled down after Franklin's shot, working quickly and flawlessly through eight innings.

But Iwakuma wasn't quite so lucky. He gave up two more home runs, a solo shot to Jed Lowrie in the fourth and another solo blast to Coco Crisp in the sixth.

It just wasn't Iwakuma's night, exiting after seven innings and allowing four runs on six hits, three of which went yard.

On the other hand, Colon was efficient after Franklin's blast, giving up just four singles for the rest of the evening and once again showing off outstanding velocity and command.

The 6-3 victory by the A's lifted Colon to 10-2 with a 2.93 ERA, joining Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer as the only other hurler with double-digit wins in the American League.

At least one person on Twitter expressed incredulity at that fact.

At this point, it would be hard to overlook Colon as a deserving All-Star selection. At 40 years of age, he has a legitimate shot at a 20-win season, which would make him one of the oldest in MLB history to achieve the feat.

But for now, the A's and Colon will simply enjoy the seven-game winning streak and hope that it doesn't stop anytime soon.


Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.