How can hope be the enemy of human endeavor? That was the question facing Bartolo Colon Sunday afternoon, as the Yankees pitcher-philosopher took the mound against Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles—veteran against rookie, righty against lefty, metaphor for inexorable despair against metaphor for the power of wishfulness.
With the help of an extra-wide strike zone, the two carried a scoreless tie well into the game. Through six innings, Colon was, if anything, sharper and more efficient than his young foe. Then in the seventh, Nick Markakis doubled, and the ancient Vladimir Guerrero—a future case study in perseverance?—singled him home, and Britton had the lead.
In the eighth, the Yankees let a Mark Reynolds popup drop for a single, and Colon had what appeared to be a weirdly stolid psychotic break—firing pickoff throw after pickoff throw to first base, obsessively trying to keep the lumbering Reynolds (2011: 5 SB, 4 CS) in check. A single moved Reynolds to third, at which point Colon, in the throes of his monomania, tried the third-to-first pickoff feint. With Colon's attention firmly fixed 90 degrees away from home plate, J.J. Hardy singled in the Orioles' second run, twice as many runs as Britton and the bullpen would need.
Colon's final line: 7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K. He took the loss, his fifth straight winless outing. Britton collected his second win in a row. Maybe Britton just hoped for it more.