Gerrit Cole stays cool in Pirates' rout of Brewers
MILWAUKEE — Gerrit Cole amped up his performance and dialed down his demeanor Monday in an 8-1 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Pirates right-hander went seven innings and gave up a run on three hits. Cole went about his work with deathless precision, showing no emotion as he racked up five strikeouts.
"He was in attack mode from Pitch One," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's gonna have energy and emotion from time to time. Tonight, he was focused on getting something done."
In the sixth inning, Cole used heat to get the first out and ice for the third out.
Eric Thames, the leading home run hitter in the National League, went down swinging at a 98 mph fastball up in the zone. The inning ended when Cole fooled Travis Shaw, who'd homered earlier.
With a runner on third base in a three-run game, Shaw stared helplessly as an 82 mph slide-step curveball caught the outer edge for Strike 3.
"It was a great pitch call," Cole said. "It was absolutely the right pitch, so I wasn't surprised that it worked out. We knew exactly what we wanted to do."
Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli popped up out of his crouch, whooping and smacking his mitt. Cervelli looked to Cole, expecting at least a fist pump, but Cole coolly walked to the dugout.
"He can do his thing, I do my thing," Cervelli said. "I was excited because it was a big out. We struck out the only guy who hit it hard."
The curveball was Cole's 95th pitch. He went straight from the mound to Hurdle and started making his case to stay in the game.
Hurdle told Cole, who was set to lead off the top of the seventh, to grab a bat.
"Gerrit was very convicted about pitching in the seventh and getting his pitch count up over 100," Hurdle said.
Even so, no one would've blamed Cole for celebrating after the sixth. His season so far has been uneven, but putting together back-to-back stellar outings could mean Cole (5-6) has gotten his mojo back.
From May 22 to June 8, Cole pitched four straight clunkers. In that span, he went 1-2 with a 10.71 ERA and a 2.28 WHIP.
He was sharp, though, June 13 when he beat the Colorado Rockies. Cole allowed one run on three hits in seven innings and struck out three.
Cole dished out more of the good stuff against the Brewers, although there was some early turbulence.
In the second inning, Cole served up his 16th homer in 15 starts when Shaw muscled a changeup over the left-field wall.
The Pirates made right-hander Matt Garza (3-3) sweat through a 30-pitch third inning and came away with a 2-1 lead.
Cervelli walked, and Jordy Mercer grounded a single under the glove of shortstop Orlando Arcia. Cole bunted over the runners.
Adam Frazier grounded a single into left field. Cervelli scored easily.
As he slid around catcher Manny Pina, who blocked the plate as he got the throw from Hernan Perez, Mercer reached back and touched the plate.
The Pirates missed on a chance to really blow the inning open. With the bases loaded and two outs, Josh Bell got ahead 3-0. Garza came back with three straight fastballs and got Bell to ground out weakly
David Freese opened the sixth with a single to center. Andrew McCutchen smacked an opposite-field homer that knocked Garza out of the game.
"What a beautiful swing he put on that ball," Hurdle said. "It's effortless power."
The blast extended McCutchen's hitting streak at Miller Park to nine games, during which he's gone 16 for 40 (.400) with three homers and nine RBIs.
Since the start of the 2009 season, McCutchen has 29 home runs against the Brewers, second most among opposing players behind Jay Bruce (30).
The Pirates scored four runs in the seventh. The splurge began when Cole dropped a single into center.
"It hurt my hands," Cole said, grinning.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.