Mets spoil Cole's return with 5-3 victory over Pirates
Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole had a short, rocky outing Saturday in his first start since coming off the disabled list.
Cole lasted just four innings and gave up five runs in a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets.
“I didn't get hit around too hard, but I wasn't sharp,” Cole said. “I didn't expect to be ‘nails' coming out. But I definitely expected to be better than I was today. I was trying to be too fine.”
The Pirates had a chance to get Cole (6-4) off the hook in the fourth inning. They scored two runs on bases-loaded walks, but Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco struck out to squash the threat.
Cole went on the DL about two weeks ago with what the Pirates described as shoulder fatigue. The move was made when Cole complained about feeling out of sorts after allowing one run and four hits in 52⁄3 innings in a June 3 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Instead of being shut down, Cole frequently threw on flat ground. He also threw three simulated games facing batters but not baserunners, which were scrutinized by the coaching staff.
“I was sharp in the sim games. My delivery was great,” Cole said. “So it was a little bit of a surprise that I was not sharp at all today.”
Cole did not make a rehab start before coming off the DL. In hindsight, neither Cole nor manager Clint Hurdle believed anything would have been different Saturday had Cole pitched a game in the minors.
“Hindsight is 20/15,” Hurdle quipped. “We're way past hindsight.”
Cole said he felt prepared to face the Mets.
“Whether you go on a rehab assignment or a sim game, you can't really replicate ... a major league game,” Cole said. “I was ready to go. I feel good, the ball's coming out nice.
“Maybe it was a little (too much) adrenaline or just being away from it for two-and-a-half weeks.”
Cole's first inning was a 26-pitch mishmash.
The good: He threw 18 strikes, and his fastball revved up to 97 mph. The bad: He yielded four hits, including three in a row with two outs, and the Mets seemed to be sitting on his fastball.
Ruben Tejada's single was sandwiched between a grounder and a flyout. Lucas Duda singled to center. Eric Campbell pulled an RBI double down the third-base line.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis dropped an RBI single into right field to make it 3-0.
In the second inning, Cole wrestled with his control.
Eric Young Jr. and Curtis Granderson drew back-to-back walks. After a double steal, Daniel Murphy hit a two-run single.
“If I was to do this over, I'd take a little focus away from the hitter and focus more on myself,” Cole said. “I was a little too results oriented early, trying to avoid hits. It's important just to nail your delivery and throw quality pitches, which escaped me today.”
Andrew McCutchen opened the fourth with a double off Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese (5-4). With one out, second baseman Murphy bobbled Harrison's bouncer. It was scored an infield single. Neil Walker walked on four pitches, loading the bases.
Pedro Alvarez and Chris Stewart each walked on five pitches to force in runs. Starling Marte pinch-hit for Cole and took a called third strike that was on the bottom outside corner of the zone. Polanco went down swinging.
“There was a questionable call to Marte,” Hurdle said. “That didn't help.”
Stolmy Pimentel replaced Cole and pitched four scoreless innings. Pimentel gave up two hits, walked one and struck out seven.
“That felt good,” Pimentel said. “I've been in that (mop-up) situation before.
“When I get that kind of opportunity, I just try to do my best.”
Ernesto Frieri made his Pirates debut by tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning. The first out came when shortstop Jordy Mercer ranged far to his right and make a strong throw to first base.
“These guys can play defense,” Frieri said. “That gives you confidence. When I see a play like that, I'm not afraid to attack the strike zone.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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