Gerrit Cole Pitches a Gem, But Offense Gets Shut Out in Loss

PITTSBURGH — Gerrit Cole pitched eight innings of two-hit ball, but the offense and the bullpen let him down in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.

Cole had an inefficient first inning, when he needed 21 pitches and a double play to get through back-to-back walks. But he settled down quickly and was nearly un-hittable after that, allowing just an infield hit and a single to left in his eight innings of work.

“Cole pretty much had no-hit stuff,” said Cubs catcher Alex Avila, who delivered the game-winning RBI in the eighth off Daniel Hudson. “The way he was locating with 97, slider, curveball, he was excellent. You just had a feeling that we weren’t going to have many opportunities against him. If he made a mistake, we weren’t able to capitalize on it. He had unbelievable stuff. Just try to outlast him and keep the game where it was until we got into their bullpen and see if we got an opportunity there.”

The Pirates thought Cole was rolling from the very beginning and might have been able to go even longer if not for some tough calls in that first that extended the inning.

“He just had a great feel for all his pitches,” catcher Chris Stewart said. “Even in that first inning, he executed pitches, we just didn’t get the calls. That added on maybe 10-15 more pitches than we needed to throw. He was dialed in from the get-go, throwing the fastball where he wanted and mixing it up with the curveball, slider and changeup. I could call anything in any given situation and I knew it was going to be a good pitch. He did an outstanding job or deserved the win.”

Outside of spot starter Steven Brault on Tuesday, the Pirates have put together an impressive early September run from their young starting pitchers, with Cole joining Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl with quality starts this home stand. Manger Clint Hurdle is impressed the way the young arms have joined Cole with some late-season success.

“It’s been really encouraging to see the workloads, because it’s hard to quantify how much of a difference it is pitching in August in Triple-A versus August in the big leagues and then you pile another month on it to what they’re doing against the quality of competition they’re pitching against,” Hurdle said.

“It shows that they’ve matured,” Stewart added. “Gerrit’s obviously been around for a couple years, but he new guys, Kuhl, Brault, Jamo and Trevor, it just goes to show the maturity and what they’ve learned this year from beginning to end. The sky is the limit with those guys and it’s good to see them transitioning with us near the end and hopefully they carry it over into next year.”

HE SAID IT

Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison will miss the rest of the season with a broken hand, but he was front and center on Wednesday, as he received the Pirates nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award.

Harrison has been with the organization since 2009, among the longest of those in the clubhouse, and he’s come to appreciate what it means to be associated with Clemente, both for on- and off-the field achievements.

GAME IN GRAPHS

Home plate umpire Paul Nauert’s two missed strike calls could have helped Cole escape with a more efficient first inning. Cole and Nauert had an extended conversation after that inning and the calls were much more consistent from then on. Stewart took that a sign of maturity.

“He just made sure that he was on the same page as the umpire,” Stewart said. “That’s a veteran move with him conversating that way. He’s not going to yell at you the entire game.”

QUICK HITS

***The Pirates had plenty of chances against Cubs starter Jose Quintana and hit the ball well at times, too. Mostly, they just had lousy luck. Twice, they had two men on and hit a ball over 100 mph, only to turn it into an out.

Jordy Mercer had men on first and second with two outs in the finish and smashed a line drive that would have cleared the outstretched glove of almost any third baseman other than the Cubs’ 6-foot-5 Kris Bryant.

In the sixth, Jose Osuna battled Quintana through a 10-pitch at-bat with two on and nobody out. He finally rocketed a ball at 102.4 MPH, but it took a short-hop into the glove of shortstop Javier Baez for an easy 6-5-4 double play.

“There was some tough luck,” Hurdle said. “Baseball is a game where you can run into that from time to time.”

***Hudson was something of a tough-luck loser. The veteran right-hander hasn’t had the kind of year the Pirates were hoping for when they signed him to a two-year, $11 million contract this past offseason. His 4.53 ERA and 1.416 WHIP coming into Wednesday are both well above his career figures.

But he’s been pitching a lot better as of late. In his last 10 games, he has a 3.18 ERA and a .132 batting average against with five hits, six walks and 14 strikeouts in 11.1 innings.

It was a walk that did him in Wednesday. After striking out Bryant to start the inning, he gave Anthony Rizzo a free pass and struck out Ian Happ before he broke Alex Avila’s bat with a changeup. But Avila’s broken-bat flare found a lot of grass and went for an RBI triple to cost the Pirates the lead.

  • I don’t even know why I bother reading the comments here….Was Tim wrong in his assessment of Nicasio? Yes.

    Does that mean he has to deal with being trolled everyday? No. State your opinion on the matter and move on….Also, get fucking over yourself.

  • Congratulations to Cole on a well pitched game except for the 4 walks given up. To bad that he is incapable of doing this most times out. true number 2/3 starter when he is on.

    • He was as good as any SP can be last night. When he’s on, which isn’t often enough unfortunately, he’s an Ace capable of shutting down any lineup.

  • These kitchen-sink columns have been fantastic, Alan. Great choice of topics.

    Really enjoyed the bit on Harrison.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    September 7, 2017 10:10 am

    Can we abandon the Hudson experiment and pull the plug on that bad signing? He’s been consistently bad all season….he has cost this team several games this season….

    • He’s signed for another year and has had success in the Majors. Might as well see if he can figure something out in the offseason and give him another shot next year. If he continues to be bad, then cut him, but I don’t see a reason to do it beforehand.

      Though I do wish Hurdle would give some of his innings to the younger guys.

      • For better or worse, he’s the closest thing to a back end reliever they have in the organization right now outside of Rivero.

        There was a time in the recent past where we’d have been optimistic about what Searage could do with a bat-missing, control-challenged pitcher. I still have hope.

        • Pretty much nailed it….His biggest issue is walking too many guys. He has good stuff and he misses bats, if he can clean up the walks, he will be a good set-up guy.

  • I think you’ve given the home plate ump too much credit by saying he was “much more consistent” the rest of the game. He remained terrible. His zone was amorphous and inaccurate all game. Strike three on a pitch inside the batter’s box to Freese, and the entire Rizzo v. Hudson at bat stand out in particular.

    • Damning with the faintest of praise, but at least he handled the conversation with Cole like a grown-ass man, let alone professional. Half the umps in the game right now would’ve thrown Cole out, filed a harassment suit, and then made an off-color joke about Cole’s mother.

  • Hmmm. Less than a month of Nicasio without playoff eligibility garnered the Phillies the Cards 8th ranked prospect by Longenhangen or 60 EXTREME by Baseball America but Tim insisted that we shouldn’t be shocked “middle relievers have no trade value” and acted as if 2 months of Nicasio with playoff eligibility would not have had much value at August 1 deadline. And the funniest part…. many people here believed it!!!

    Not to mention, Nicasio had been pitching better as of July 31st than he was this August.

    • Yeah but we still have DH. Now if Hudson were to start pitching well next year i am sure we could then find about 5 million reasons to cut him.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      September 7, 2017 10:14 am

      I love this site for its content on the farm system and prospects, but it has little credibility when it comes to objectivity regarding the Pirates FO and organization. No sane person can defend the Nicasio debacle…it was an embarrassment for the “best management team in baseball”. I’ve lost all confidence in NH.

      • I don’t know if I’ll go as far as saying it has no objectivity but describing Nicasio as a middle reliever with no trade value at the August deadline was a low point for Tim.

      • How will NH sleep tonight knowing you’ve lost all confidence in him?

        If losing a dime a dozen middle reliever when they could’ve had a no glove, 28% strikeout rate, middle infielder is your definition of a debacle than you sir are a certified hater.

        • michael schalke
          September 7, 2017 11:14 am

          Also a certified idiot!

        • Dime a dozen middle reliever, LMFAO- wow drink some more koolaid. That stuff has to be good.

          Some dime a dozen guys who have a FIP worse than Nicasio this year…. Wade Davis, Betances

          Yeah, he’s just a dime a dozen dude. Longhenhagen only had Alvarez as 8th best player in Cards system, Baseball America 10th with a 60 grade. He sucks!

          • I’m the one drinking kook-aid? You just compared him to Wade Davis and Betances because of one single season statistic. Those two are exceptional RP, who if traded would bring back legitimate value.

            The reason he’s a dime a dozen is because he’s a middle reliever. There is no position more mercurial than a middle relief pitcher. Performance spikes and cliff dives for no apparent reason at any moment. Hudson and Watson are just two of many recent examples of this fact.

            As for this franchise changing 60 grade player you love so much, when a player strikes out nearly 30% in AA, he has virtually no chance to have a MLB career.

            • Scott, find me one single other source that comes close to corroborating Tim’s assessment of Nicasio. Just one.

              • The funny thing is I could be wrong but I don’t even think NH HIMSELF has made the silly assertion that Tim did about “middle relievers having no value” at the deadline. I think he said not liking the return or getting 60 cents on the dollar which clearly leaves A LOT for interpretation.

                • But then again, how could NH make such an assertion. Every deadline he is whining how any help for the bullpen is exceedingly expensive.

                • And even that’s becoming another tell of his. Normally tight-lipped, he just so happens to drop “specifics” when he butchers a move. Remember part of the rambling, shifting, post-hoc justification of his awful Walker trade devaluing Walker by claiming all that was offered other than Niese were a couple low level prospects?

                  There’s a trend here.

                  • Correct -the painfully detailed, defensive explanations of butchered moves is a clear tell they were as bad, if not worse than they appear.

            • Please define middle reliever for me

              Are you doing that based on the typical leverage situation he pitches in or his results? Because I can tell you neither fit the profile of a middle reliever with Nicasio.

              And the point is Nicasio had MORE value at the end of July because the team could use him for 2 months and also count on post season eligibility.

            • Hudson is a middle reliever now… were you and Tim calling him a middle reliever when we signed him this past offseason?

  • yet again, the ump squeezed Hudson with that walk to Rizzo. Please lets get robo-umps to call balls/strikes. Granted if the ump called the two strikes that were in the zone, then maybe Rizzo swings the bat later and hits a HR but I’d rather live with that than a free pass that should have been a 2-2 count.

  • Sure am glad we used that money in the LIriano salary dump for Daniel Hudson. Hudson blows pure and simple

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