For five innings there were indications the Pirates had the ace they’ve been looking for. For five innings Gerrit Cole looked to be back as the stud starter he was late last season and into the playoffs. Through five innings he allowed the Philadelphia Phillies no runs, one hit and one walk while striking out five.
But there was no sixth and no one is sure right now when there will be another inning for Cole.
He was pulled from the game with what was announced as soreness is his latissimus dorsi (lat), the large muscle in the upper back.
Early indications are the soreness is nothing serious and Cole should not be expected to miss a start.
“Instead of trying to push through it, coming back, it just seemed like the right thing to do was to take a step back for a minute,” Cole said.
Hurdle said, ''“Precaution as much as anything, but I’m glad that he just let us know. It’s a good sign from him, a sign of maturity. We’ll see where it goes. We’ll probably know a little bit more tomorrow. I don’t think anybody is overly alarmed right now.”
According to Wikipedia, the lat ''is responsible for extension, adduction, transverse extension also known as horizontal abduction, flexion from an extended position, and (medial) internal rotation of the shoulder joint.''
Translation: It’s pretty important to a pitcher.
The Pirates were wise to be cautious with Cole, who, as much as any other player, is a key to the success of this season. The Pirates have been playing well, which includes an 8-2 win over the Phillies last night, but they lack the top-of-the-rotation starter so crucial in the postseason. With Francisco Liriano having a disappointing season, Cole is the Pirates‘ primary candidate for that role.
That he rolled through five innings was highly encouraging. That he left early was not. This was his second start since coming off the disabled list due to shoulder fatigue. His first start was a poor one.
Cole has pitched well enough this season but not up to the expectations most held for him. Even with the five shutout innings from last night, his ERA of 3.78 is only 31st best in the National League and his WHIP of 1.31 only 41st best.
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• Hurdle brought Stolmy Pimentel in to replace Cole and the move almost proved disastrous. Pimentel faced four batters and gave up one hit and three walks. He was replaced with the bases loaded and none out by Jared Hughes, who induced a double-play ball, which scored the second run of the inning, and a strikeout. Justin Wilson pitched the seventh, Tony Watson the eight and Jeanmar Gomez the ninth. The Phillies were retired in order in each inning.
• When was the last time a health Pedro Alvarez did not start against a right-handed pitcher? Alvarez, as well as Ike Davis, both lefty swingers, were out of the lineup against Philadelphia right-handed starter Roberto Hernandez. Although Hernandez has traditionally been hit hard by lefties, that has not been the case this season, which seemed to be the reasoning behind Hurdle’s decision. It also was an opportunity to get Josh Harrison’s bat in the lineup and to give Gaby Sanchez an opportunity to play.
• Andrew McCutchen had four hits and narrowly missed hitting for the cycle when his blast against the right-field wall in the eighth inning was a few feet short of being a home run and went for a double. McCutchen is batting .323 with a .961 OPS and is making a run at another MVP award . . . With two hits and a walk, Russell Martin increased his on-base percentage to .415, third best in the National League behind Troy Tulowitzki and McCutchen . . . Jordy Mercer had two hits and four RBIs. Since the end of May he is batting .292 (33-for-113) with five homers and 19 RBIs.