The first thing you have to understand is that Adam Wainwright and Bartolo Colon are nothing like one another.
Wainwright is 6-foot-7. Colon is 5-11.
Wainwright throws every pitch under the sun. Colon throws fastballs, then more fastballs.
Wainwright pitches in the National League for the Cardinals. Colon, close to being a lifer in the American League, pitches for the A’s.
Wainwright is, at 31, in the middle of his career. Colon is, at 40, close to the end.
But in one instance the right-handers could be twins.
They throw strikes. They don’t walk batters. They let hitters get themselves out. And they win baseball games.
OK, that’s several instances. But you get the point.
“When you talk about style, they aren’t alike at all,’’ A’s manager Bob Melvin said Saturday after Wainwright threw a complete game in beating the A’s 7-1. `When you talk about results, they’re very alike.’’
On Friday, Colon had thrown eight innings for Oakland to beat St. Louis 6-1. The wins leave both men with 11 wins.
“The thing that strikes me is that these are two guys who never beat themselves,’’ A’s first baseman Brandon Moss said. “Bartolo doesn’t. Wainwright doesn’t. And they have such good command of the strike zone.’’
Colon walked one in eight innings Friday and has walked 13 in 106.1 innings. Wainwright walked two A’s Saturday – Oakland leads the majors in walks drawn – and now has walked just a dozen in 125.2 innings. Moss drew one of the walks, with two out in the ninth inning.
“You could look at that and say there was a control issue,’’ Moss said. “There wasn’t. I know for a fact that Wainwright was throwing the pitch exactly where he wanted to. He expected me to chase that ball two or three inches outside. He expected me to get myself out. I just didn’t. Earlier in the game I did.
“Bartolo’s the same way. When he walks someone it’s not because he’s lost control. He doesn’t. He always puts the ball where he wants to.’’
Moss, who had faced Wainwright while playing for the Pirates – “he owned me,’’ he said – lumped Wainwright into an elite class of pitcher.
“He’s up there with Iwakuma, with Felix and with Verlander,’’ he said. Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez of the Mariners and Justin Verlander of the Tigers are pitchers who are scary good.
“Felix has that great changeup. Wainwright has that great curve. It’s unbelievable.’’
And there is something else those elite pitchers have in common.
“Those are the kinds of pitchers we’re going to have to beat if we want to get to where we want to go,’’ Moss said, speaking of a return trip to the post-season.’’
The A’s had their 2012 season cut short by Verlander, losing to him once in September when they were beating everybody else and twice in the playoffs in October.
“These guys all have great weapons,’’ Moss said. “These are guys we’re going to have to beat.
Oakland has pinned two of three losses on Iwakuma, one of those a 1-0 win, but he’s also beaten them 7-1. The A’s haven’t yet scored a run this season off Hernandez in 14 innings. They’ve faced Verlander once and scored one run off him in a loss. And now they’ve gotten one run off Wainwright, also in a loss.
It seems as if the A’s offense still has its work cut out for it against the elite pitchers.
Then again, so does everybody else. That’s why those pitchers are elite.