Bartolo Colon's impeccable command allows him to lean on his fastball. Because he can hit his target -- and consistently -- he often induces weak contact by pelting the edge of the strike zone.
When things are going well, the Mets righthander is a precision machine. But when things are out of whack, as they were in Sunday's 14-2 drubbing by the Angels, Colon leaves himself exposed to punishment.
At 40, Colon throws a fastball that no longer overwhelms opponents. And when he lacks sufficient command, offenses are free to inflict major damage.
The Angels pounced, tagging a lackluster Colon for nine runs in five turbulent innings. For the fourth time in his career -- and for the first time since 2009 -- Colon allowed four home runs in one start. Of the 11 hits he gave up, seven went for extra bases.
"At that moment, you're not thinking 'why is this happening?' " Colon said through a translator. "It's just part of the game."
Also part of the game is taking one for the team, which Colon did by pitching through the fifth inning before handing off to a worn-down bullpen that failed to stop the Angels' barrage.
"He had to give us some innings," manager Terry Collins said. "He knew it. He had no problem with it. He's a pro and he knew exactly what was going on. He was just up in the zone with all his stuff today. That's just not him."
Perhaps the Mets were due for a suspense-free day.
They began a nine-game road trip by taking two of three against the Braves. But after playing a night game Thursday in Atlanta, the sleep-deprived Mets flew to the West Coast on Friday, when they absorbed a 5-4 walk-off loss in the 11th inning.
On Saturday, they bounced back, outlasting the Angels, 7-6, in 13 innings on Anthony Recker's home run after blowing a 6-3 lead with two outs in the ninth.
Collins took a measure of pride in his team's energy level during a pair of marathon games. Even in difficult circumstances, the Mets positioned themselves to win their second series of the trip with a victory Sunday afternoon.
Instead, after yet another short turnaround, the Mets looked spent.
It turns out they were irritable, too. In the seventh inning, Daniel Murphy and David Wright were ejected by plate umpire Toby Basner for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout.
Still, nobody looked worse than Colon. Three times in the first inning, he threw fastballs right over the heart of the plate. Three times -- in a span of seven pitches -- he watched those pitches wind up on the other side of the fence. Mike Trout began the barrage, followed by Albert Pujols and Raul Ibañez.
It was the first time that a Mets pitcher had given up back-to-back-to-back homers since Johan Santana at Yankee Stadium in 2012. The Angels hadn't pulled off the feat since 2009.
In the fourth inning, Erick Aybar skied a two-run triple over a diving Eric Young Jr. In the fifth, Hank Conger blasted a two-run homer off Colon to make it 9-2. The rout was on.
The Mets fell to 3-3 on their nine-game, three-city road trip. They still have a chance to come home with a winning record. They begin a three-game series Monday night against the Diamondbacks, who have stumbled to a 4-11 start.
But first the Mets must shake off their exhausting series against the Angels.
"Just chalk this one up to their lineup got hot and Bart left some balls over the plate," Wright said. "This was just a flat-out beating."