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Mejia thrilled to save 200th win for countryman Colon

Mets closer, catcher, manager shower praise on 41-year-old Dominican righty

Mejia thrilled to save 200th win for countryman Colon play video for Mejia thrilled to save 200th win for countryman Colon

PHILADELPHIA -- For young Dominican players of the Millennial generation, Pedro Martinez was "the guy."

The three-time Cy Young Award winner captured the affection and admiration of pitchers looking to become stars. Few were trying to follow in the footsteps of the other Dominican pitcher who would come along five years later.

"When I was growing up, I just liked to watch Pedro Martinez," 24-year-old Mets closer Jenrry Mejia said. "I never watched Bartolo Colon."

Mejia was 8 years old and still breaking in his baseball glove when Colon earned his first Major League win on June 7, 1997. Back then, 200 wins was too daunting a number to even consider.

"I never thought it. Never thought I was going going to make 200 wins in the big leagues," Colon said.

But 17 years later, Colon hit his mark, and Mejia relished the opportunity to secure the 200th win of the pitcher he's grown to admire and loves to watch.

"It means a lot," Mejia said about getting the save in Friday's 5-4 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

After all, he had made a promise to his countryman.

"When we were home, and [Colon] said, '[I'll soon be] one more game to be at 200,'" Mejia said. "I said, 'I'm going to save that game.'"

Mejia made sure he did.

"When I see the game, 5-4, two out, man on the third, I said, 'Oh, God. I made a promise to him. I need to save this game,'" Mejia said.

Colon has enjoyed his fair of moments in the spotlight -- for example, during his 21-win Cy Young Award season in 2005 -- but nothing like Martinez, who owned it for the duration of his career.

But with Friday's victory, Colon cemented himself in Dominican baseball lore, right alongside Martinez, who finished his career with 219 wins, and the only other Dominican to reach the 200-win mark, Hall of Famer Juan Marichal (243).

"Certainly well deserved," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "To reinvent yourself after what he was years ago, and still being able to perform at the level he's performed and win 200 games? You just think about it. That's a lot of wins. That's a tremendous, tremendous feat for him."

Colon's durability early and late in his career has certainly played a key role, but even as a 41-year-old, his stuff is still fooling the opposition.

"He does a good job of changing speeds with his fastball," said Phillies third baseman Cody Asche, who went 0-for-4 on Friday. "He mixes some four-seamers in there to keep you honest. I think he's good at reading the hitter, too. Kind of being a step ahead of him. I think that's why he's survived so long in this game and done so well. He's tough."

The man behind the plate for Colon's 200th victory saw it, too.

"He threw great today. I'm just honored to be a part of it," Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud said.

"It's fun [to catch him]. It's really fun, that's for sure. It's really quick and it makes it enjoyable for me."

Colon enjoyed it, too. And he's expecting to hear from the Dominican legend whose company he joined.

"Not yet, but I'm expecting a call from [Martinez]," Colon said. "But I feel really good and happy to be in that category."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }
{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }