23 year old Gerrit Cole stood on the mound at Busch Stadium tugging on his Pittsburgh Pirates hat. The rookie was given the starting nod by Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle over veteran A.J. Burnett. With Burnett smiling in the dugout, the rookie stood glaring at Russell Martin his catcher. Cole was snortin, grunting, wiping at his beard.
It was rather obvious the Bucs ace was ready to go.
Eleven pitches later the first inning was over. Down went Matt Carpenter,
The right-hander got two quick outs in the second inning. It appeared he had the third on a strike out looking, but home plate umpire Jim Joyce said he just missed on his 99 mph fastball to John Jay. Two pitches later the Cardinals had their first base runner after Cole walked Jay.
It was the first big moment of the game for the Buccos first-round pick.
After getting ahead on David Freese one ball and two strikes, the Cards third baseman crushed a slider that was left on the inner half for a two home-run. The ball just cleared the left field wall sending the old ladies at Busch Stadium into a frenzy.
2-0 Cardinals after two innings.
With the help of a sparkling Starling Marte grab in left field, Cole had a smooth third inning.
After one out in the bottom of the fourth, Philipsburg Pennsylvania’s favorite son, Matt Adams had a single through an empty left side of the Bucs offense. Yadier Molina leaned out and hit a slow nubber toward Alvarez at third who threw wide of first baseman Justin Morneau putting Cardinals on second and third.
It was the fourth Pirates error of the series.
Cole needed to come up big. The first pitch was a breaking ball that Russell Martin did a great job to block as John Jay whiffed for strike one. Another breaking pitch achieved the same result and made it 0-2 as Martin blocked another Cole hook. Jay hit a roller to Neil Walker at second who fired home and Martin tagged Adams who had slipped and then fired to third, but it was late putting runners on the corner for postseason hero David Freese.
Two 99 mph heaters fouled off by Freese made it 0-2 with Molina still at third and Jay at first base.
Big moment in the game and Cole came up big. The Bucs ace froze Freese with another heater as Cole pumped his fist and raced off the mound.
Cole comes back to get two strikeouts in the bottom of the fifth before Carpenter rips a ball to dead center, but it was tracked down by McCutchen.
It’s still 2-0 and Cole looks like he has plenty in the tank with the Cards heart coming up in the sixth. The Pirates had the bottom of the order up, so a decision might need to be made for the Bucs to get some offense going.
Sure enough, Garrett Jones is in the on deck circle for the Pirates. Cole made one mistake and with the Bucs offense battling for anything, it was the right call by Clint Hurdle.
Let’s trust it’s not the last we see of Cole in 2013.