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Colon Is 20-Something

Times Staff Writer

In the hills of the Dominican Republic, amid the coconuts and mangos and palm trees, a baseball field is under construction. Finally, the children of Altamira will have a diamond to call their own.

The money to build the field comes from the town’s most famous son, Bartolo Colon. The kids who play there will say they want to grow up to be just like Colon. They want to grow up, they will say, to become a 20-game winner in the big leagues.

For the record:
12:00 AM, Sep. 22, 2005 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 22, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Bartolo Colon -- A listing of Angel pitcher Bartolo Colon’s 20 wins in Wednesday’s Sports section said Colon defeated the New York Yankees on June 10. Colon defeated the New York Mets that day.

And, just maybe, they will say they want to grow up to be a Cy Young Award winner.

For the first time since Nolan Ryan in 1974, the Angels have a 20-game winner. Colon earned the milestone victory and enhanced his Cy Young candidacy as well by pitching seven outstanding innings in the Angels’ 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday at Angel Stadium. The Angels got another day closer to October, retaining a 1 1/2 -game lead over the Oakland Athletics with 12 to play.

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Colon, who said he grew up wanting to be just like Ryan, won 20 games for the second time in his career. But he attaches his own asterisk to 2002, when he won 10 games for the Cleveland Indians and 10 for the Montreal Expos.

“It’s a very special feeling to do it for one team,” Colon said through interpreter Jose Mota, “unlike what I did before.”

The victory did not come easily, and the celebration was muted. Colon could not start the eighth inning because his bad back flared up again. Outfielder Garret Anderson left the game after eight innings because of back stiffness.

And third baseman Maicer Izturis, often used as a defensive replacement, committed three errors in two innings, enabling the Rangers to score an unearned run in the seventh and allowing them to put the tying and go-ahead ones into scoring position in the eighth.

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But Kelvim Escobar, pitching the eighth in place of slumping Scot Shields, stopped the Rangers without giving up a run. Francisco Rodriguez, who has converted his last 12 save opportunities, worked the ninth for his 39th save.

The Angels’ offense provided just enough support. The Angels scored an earned run in the second inning, on a home run by Juan Rivera, and an unearned run in the sixth.

Colon, with a fastball clocked up to 97 mph, gave up four hits over seven innings. His earned-run average (3.34) ranks fourth in the league. At 20-7, his winning percentage of .741 ranks third.

And, perhaps most importantly in the Cy Young derby, he is the first in the league to 20 victories. He might be the only one to get there. No one else has won more than 17, and he wasn’t shy about declaring his candidacy.

“It would mean a lot, especially to my family, to the Angel fans and to my country,” Colon said. “It would be a real honor to have it and to win it. This is not the time to hide anymore. It’s out there.”

The Angels signed Colon to a four-year, $51-million contract in December 2003. The investment did not appear wise in July 2004, when he had five victories and a 6.57 ERA.

But since the All-Star break last season, he is 32-11 with a 3.41 ERA.

“What he brings to our club is exactly what every championship-caliber staff needs,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “You need that horse.”

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Said second baseman Adam Kennedy: “It’s very comforting to look in today’s starters and see his name.”

Colon, reminded of his tie to Ryan every time he looked at the bottom of the ESPN screen, said he has never met the Hall of Famer.

“I’ve only seen him on the screen,” he said, “in the Advil commercial.”

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Twenty victories

With his victory Tuesday, Bartolo Colon became the Angels’ first 20-game winner in 31 seasons. The details of his victories:

*--* Date Opponent IP H ER BB SO Apr. 5 vs. Texas 6.2 6 1 4 5 Apr. 15 at Oakland 7.0 2 1 0 5 Apr. 20 vs. Cleveland 8.0 4 0 2 6 May 1 at Minnesota 7.1 2 0 0 7 May 18 at Cleveland 8.0 4 1 4 3 May 29 vs. Kansas City 7.2 12 4 0 6 June 4 at Boston 6.0 10 5 1 11 June 10 at New York (A) 6.0 7 2 0 3 June 21 vs. Texas 6.0 6 3 2 7 June 27 at Texas 8.0 8 3 0 5 July 2 at Kansas City 7.1 4 3 0 5 July 21 vs. New York (A) 7.0 8 5 0 3 Aug. 2 vs. Baltimore 7.0 10 1 0 7 Aug. 7 vs. Tampa Bay 7.0 7 2 1 6 Aug. 13 at Seattle 8.0 4 1 1 5 Aug. 18 vs. Boston 7.0 8 3 0 5 Aug. 24 at Baltimore 8.2 5 1 1 2 Sept. 4 vs. Seattle 5.0 5 2 0 5 Sept. 10 at Chicago (A) 6.0 4 2 4 5 Sept. 20 vs. Texas 7.0 4 0 0 4

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Earning his wings

Bartolo Colon became the sixth Angel to win 20 games in one season. Comparing those pitchers:

*--* Pitcher (Season) IP H ER BB SO W-L CG ShO ERA Dean Chance (1964) 278.1 194 51 86 207 20-9 15 11 1.65 Clyde Wright (1970) 260.2 226 82 88 110 22-12 7 2 2.83 Andy Messersmith 276.2 224 92 121 179 20-13 14 4 2.99 (1971) Nolan Ryan (1973) 326 238 104 162 383 21-16 26 4 2.87 Bill Singer (1973) 315.2 280 113 130 241 20-14 19 2 3.22 Nolan Ryan (1974) 332.2 221 107 202 367 22-16 26 3 2.89 Bartolo Colon (2005) 212.2 200 79 40 149 20-7 2 0 3.34

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