When New York Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon made his major league debut, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado hadn't yet turned 5 years old and Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. was one season shy of ending his record consecutive-games streak.
The 41-year-old Colon has been baffling hitters going on 18 years, doing it in several different uniforms over his career, and on Tuesday night, he made history by beating the Orioles 3-2 at Citi Field in front of an announced crowd of 20,534.
Colon, who held the Orioles scoreless for his first seven innings before allowing a solo homer to Machado in the eighth, held Baltimore to one run over 7 2/3 innings.
With the win, Colon became the first player in major league history to beat one team while pitching for seven different teams, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He also beat the Orioles as a member of the Indians, White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees and Athletics.
"He's been doing it for so long," Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said. "I feel like he's pretty much got a scouting report on every hitter in the big leagues. He's a guy I faced a number of times, but you know you're always in for a battle. He mixes his pitches up, he uses both sides of the plate and throws a lot of strikes. I feel like the older he's gotten, the more his ball's been moving."
Colon (5-1) struck out nine and walked none, extending his streak of consecutive innings without a walk to 34 2/3. On the season, Colon has struck out 34 batters and issued just one walk.
"It is [impressive] when you think about how much everything he throws moves and the fact that he commands not only both sides of the plate, but almost in any count," Davis said. "And you saw that tonight. What did he strike out, nine? It wasn't like you could just go up there and just sit on one pitch or take a bunch of pitches. He was going to fill up the strike zone."
In four games at Citi Field, which opened in 2009, the Orioles are 0-4 and have been outscored 17-5.
The Orioles (12-12), who came to New York having won five of their last six games, rallied late with a pair of solo homers, but fell just short. Machado hit his fifth homer of the season in the eighth to end Colon's bid for a shutout. And Davis crushed a first-pitch offering from Mets closer Jeurys Familia, hitting an opposite-field blast over the left-field fence for his sixth homer of the season.
Orioles right-hander Bud Norris allowed three runs in the fourth inning as the Mets took advantage of Citi Field's spacious outfield, hitting three doubles in the frame. Both run-scoring hits off Norris came on 0-2 counts.
"He pitched well for the most part," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But we've been giving up some 0-2 base hits we shouldn't, but I can't fault him. He gave us a chance to win."
It might have been worse had it not been for a superb defensive night from center fielder Adam Jones, who chased down balls all over the park's vast center field. Jones also entered the night leading the American League with a .402 batting average.
"There's nobody playing better all-around as Adam is," Showalter said. "I'm biased, but both sides of the ball, a lot of energy. And he's one of the bigger reasons we were in that ballgame tonight."
In a scoreless game, the Orioles had runners at second and third with one out in the fourth, but couldn't score a run. Jones and Davis opened the inning with back-to-back singles and both moved into scoring position on a groundout, but Caleb Joseph struck out and Travis Snider grounded out to end the inning.
Lucas Duda opened the bottom of the fourth with a double to the deepest part of Citi Field in center. Two batters later, Daniel Murphy slapped an RBI single to right, scoring Duda to plate the game's first run.
Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores followed with a double down the left-field line, placing runners on second and third. Rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki then doubled into the left-field corner, scoring both runners and putting the Mets up 3-0.
"It was good to get through seven," Norris said. "Obviously had the sloppier inning there [in the fourth], which was the ballgame. [I] know I've got to make some better pitches there. The slider I threw [to Flores] down the line, that was a mistake he hit. But I felt good, I'm going to keep competing and get better."
Norris settled from there, not allowing a hit for his final 3 2/3 innings, posting his best outing of the season and his second straight quality start. Norris allowed three runs on seven hits over seven innings, striking out four and walking one.
With two outs in the fifth, Duda hit a ball into the left-center gap, on which Jones made a running, jumping grab, slamming into the wall on the way down.
Orioles starters have now posted seven straight quality starts and eight straight starts of at least six innings.
"We work hard," Norris said. "Sometimes the numbers don't really depict what's going on for us and we understand that. It's a tough job. This isn't always a glamorous job and we understand where we are. We are just getting into May. We have a lot of season left. We are playing .500 ball. We kind of did the same thing last year. We've just got pick up our stride and keep going."