In his first, and only, major league start of the season before Wednesday night, A.J. Cole held the Philadelphia Phillies to one run on six hits in a 6-2 win on the road in Citizens Bank Park back on May 6th.
Cole, 25, threw 109 pitches total in six innings, 50 of them in the first two, when he gave up three of the six hits he allowed, and the only run he surrendered, before he settled in and held the Washington Nationals’ NL East rivals off the board from the second on.
“A.J. wasn’t as sharp early, because his pitch count got up real high in the first couple innings,” Dusty Baker told reporters after that win over the Phillies, “... we’ve certainly got to work on that.”
“He threw a pretty good game,” Baker continued.
“Would have liked to have seen his balls-to-strikes ratio better, because he was almost 1:1, but that’s what your defense is for, because they made some outstanding plays.”
Cole threw 58 of 109 pitches for strikes vs the Phillies in that outing, and walked four batters in his six innings on the mound.
His second major league start against the Marlins in Miami on Wednesday, in the finale of the three-game set with the Fish, started with a free pass to Dee Gordon, who promptly scored when Giancarlo Stanton lined a 3-2 fastball to right-center for an RBI double, 1-0.
Cole fell behind 3-0 on Christian Yelich too, and issued his second walk of the game to the Marlins’ center fielder, (15 pitches, four strikes to that point), but he caught Marcell Ozuna looking at a 2-2 fastball, got a groundout to short out of J.T. Realmuto, and a fly to left from Derek Dietrich to end a 24-pitch first.
Cole struck out the side in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 second, pounding the zone with his fastball and slider against the Marlins’ 7-8-9 hitters, and worked around a leadoff hit by Gordon and a one-out walk to Christian Yelich in an 18-pitch third that left him at 55 pitches.
Miguel Rojas singled to center with two down in the fourth, lining an 0-2 fastball up in the zone outside over second, and Rojas took second on an error, but was stranded there when Cole retired the opposing pitcher, Vance Worley, to end a 12-pitch frame.
Gordon was 2 for 2 with a walk after he tripled to right on a first-pitch curve to start the Marlins’ sixth, but he got Giancarlo Stanton to chase a 3-2 slider outside, and out of the zone... before Christian Yelich hit a 2-1 fastball out to center for a two-run shot that made it 3-0 Marlins.
One out later, Derek Dietrich hit an 89 mph 1-2 fastball into the upper deck in right field to put the Fish up 5-0, as Miami’s lefties did all the damage against Cole.
A.J. Cole’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 97 P, 58 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
“In the fifth inning the two left-handers got him,” Baker told reporters after what ended up a 7-0 loss.
“I couldn’t tell where those pitches were, but they made some good passes on them.”
Both pitches were actually pretty much in the same spot, and it’s not a good spot vs lefties:
“And that’s what kind of did him in,” Baker added.
“In the beginning, he was a little bit wild because his balls-to-strikes ratio was about 1:1, and that inning they centered — like I said, they really centered a couple balls, and it was really Dee Gordon did his damage on us tonight.”
Gordon went 3 for 4 with three runs scored on the night. The Nationals managed just four hits total on the night.
“Wasn’t a very good night for us, wasn’t a good night offensively, and it wasn’t a very good night pitching-wise.”