In two 2017 appearances against Philadelphia before Monday night, Nationals’ right-hander A.J. Cole held Washington’s NL East rivals to one run on seven hits over eight innings.
A six-inning start came back in early May, when the 2010 Nationals’ 4th Round pick held the Phillies to one run on six hits in six innings in Citizens Bank Park, where he took the mound again on Monday in the series opener in the City of Brotherly Love.
Cole also tossed two scoreless against the Phillies earlier this month, in a relief appearance in the nation’s capital.
He struggled against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his last start before Monday’s outing, however, giving up seven hits, two walks, and three earned runs in five innings, over which he threw 92 pitches, leaving the game with two on and no one out in the sixth after a single and hit-by-pitch.
“I just kind of ran out of gas in that last inning,” Cole said after taking the loss against LA, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
“I’m on four days of rest, so I’m trying to push and give everything I have for them.”
Cole got off to a strong start Monday night in Philadelphia, and Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead. He held the Phillies to two hits and a walk in three scoreless, striking out three on 53 pitches.
Two outs into the bottom of the fourth inning, Cole left an 0-2 fastball up and out over of the middle of the plate for Odubel Herrera, who lined it out to right field for a solo shot that got the Phillies on the board, down 2-1.
Cole worked around a leadoff single in the fifth, and got the second out of the sixth before he was lifted with a runner on after a one-out single.
A.J. Cole’s Line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 101 P, 67 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
In three appearances against the Phillies this year, Cole now has a 1.32 ERA (2 ER in 13 2⁄3 IP).
Dusty Baker talked after the Nationals’ 3-1 win about what he saw from his right-hander against the Phillies.
“He’s commanded the strike zone,” Baker said.
“He’s kept out of the middle of the plate. The one ball that was hit out, it was in the middle of plate. So if you can stay out of the middle of the plate, you’ve got action.
“If you’re using the corners. [Matt] Wieters has been putting down the right fingers, and he’s been executing his pitches. he threw a couple good changeups tonight and some good sliders tonight.”
Baker was asked if he had any advice for what Cole had to improve long-term, and if he shared it with the 25-year-old, who’s bounced between Triple-A Syracuse and the majors in the last few seasons, but he said now wasn’t the time for that sort of talk.
“You don’t try to put that pressure on them, you just let them pitch,” Baker said, “and then if you pitch and pitch well, and effectively for a period of time, that will take care of itself. Cause you can’t worry about next year, postseason, all you can worry about is what you’re doing in the present, which is today, pitching, and so when the season’s over then we might communicate that to get ready for next year or whatever, but right now you just want him to just concentrate on each pitch.”