A.J. Cole’s second start against the Miami Marlins in the last week followed a familiar script, with four strong innings followed by a rough fifth.
Last time out, in Miami, FL’s Marlins Park, Cole allowed up just one run through four innings, but in the home-half of the fifth, Christian Yelich and Derek Dietrich took the right-hander deep for two-run blasts that blew what ended up being a 7-0 loss wide open.
Yelich hit a 2-1 fastball out to center, and Dietrich hit an 89 mph 1-2 fastball out to right, into the upper deck in Marlins Park.
Cole got through the bottom of the fifth, but the 30-pitch frame left the 25-year-old, 2010 4th Round pick at 95 pitches.
“I was really trying to get here and be ready to help the bullpen out,” Cole explained to reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“They had a bullpen day yesterday, and I was trying to give them everything I had. But those two pitches kind of changed the game for me.”
“In the fifth inning the two left-handers got him,” Baker said after the loss.
“I couldn’t tell where those pitches were, but they made some good passes on them.”
Tonight, in the nation’s capital, Cole looked good early, but ran into trouble in the fifth again.
Cole got Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton swinging with sliders for the first two outs in a quick, 14-pitch, 1-2-3 first, and worked around a two-out hit-by-pitch in a scoreless second, before popping Stanton up to end the third after a two-out error gave the Fish their second baserunner of the game.
Cole’s slider was sharp early, but he finally left a breaking ball up-ish on a 1-2 pitch to Derek Dietrich in the fourth. Dietrich had to go down a bit to get it, but he hit it out to right for a solo shot that tied things up at 1-1.
After he got two quick outs on 12 pitches, Cole ended up throwing 32 pitches in the fourth, (11 of them to Tomas Telis on the walk), pushing him up to 79 pitches total after four.
Leadoff and one-out singles in the fifth brought Giancarlo Stanton to the plate with runners on the corners, and he crushed a first-pitch fastball that didn’t quite get in, hitting a three-run blast to the middle of the Red Porch seats in left. 4-1 Fish.
Cole was done after five innings of work in what ended up a 7-3 loss.
A.J. Cole’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 96 P, 62 S, 8/1 GO/FO.
“He was throwing the ball well,” Baker told reporters on Tuesday night, “... and then the homer probably didn’t want it down and in on Dietrich, and then the one that hurt was that three-run homer by Stanton.”
“The pitch I threw wasn’t a bad pitch,” Cole said.
“But the other two at bats I threw to him, same spot, he kind of sits on it, I could have thrown something outside, a slider outside, or a little farther in. He capitalized on a decent pitch.”
Cole was working mostly with his fastball (64 pitches), and slider (25), getting four swinging strikes with the fastball, and six with the slider on the night.
“For the most part I was feeling my location and it was feeling good coming out,” Cole said of his fastball.
“I could thrown a couple more offspeed in certain counts, but the way I was throwing it, it was working and I was setting guys up with it.”
Asked what was different later in his start when things started to go wrong, Cole said he was dealing with a lat issue.
“For the most part everything felt real good,” he explained.
“Around the third inning my lat kind of tightened up on me, I got it stretched out, and that fifth inning struggled getting over my front side a little bit so my balls didn’t have the sharpness they had in the first couple innings.”
He said he wasn’t sure if the lat tightness would be a lingering issue.
“Day-to-day right now, we’ll see how it feels tomorrow.”