HOUSTON -- Astros starter Gerrit Cole struck out a record-setting 14 batters in seven innings and George Springer bashed a pair of homers off Cole Hamels, but it was a fielding error that allowed Houston to finish off the Rangers on Friday night.Pinch-runner Derek Fisher scored from first base with
HOUSTON -- Astros starter Gerrit Cole struck out a record-setting 14 batters in seven innings and George Springer bashed a pair of homers off Cole Hamels, but it was a fielding error that allowed Houston to finish off the Rangers on Friday night.
Pinch-runner Derek Fisher scored from first base with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning on a single by Marwin Gonzalez that went past the glove of Rangers center fielder Drew Robinson to send the Astros to a 3-2 win at Minute Maid Park.
"That was an incredible performance," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "Obviously, it's a shame [Cole] didn't get the win in that game based on how he pitched. What a great job of getting into the game, setting the tone, even finishing after a couple of solo homers. He did a great job of leading us tonight."
The Astros (10-4) matched the 2006 team for their best start through 14 games.
Cole's 14 strikeouts set a career high, but he was left with a no-decision after giving up solo homers to Joey Gallo and Robinson Chirinos in the seventh inning that tied the game at 2. Through three starts, he has struck out 36, walked four and given up three runs and 10 hits in 21 innings (1.29 ERA).
"I'm happy that we've been winning a lot of ballgames," Cole said. "Even with the off-day [Thursday], the bullpen was stretched in Minnesota a little bit, so it was good to give a couple of guys a rest and get some length. Unfortunately, I couldn't hold the lead, but I'll learn from it."
Cole dominated the Rangers for the second time this season. He struck out 11 and allowed one hit and two runs in seven innings April 1 at Texas.
"He was in midseason form," Chirinos said. "He was really good with everything: fastball, slider, even his changeup. The first outing when we faced him at home, he wasn't throwing the changeup to right-handers. He was tough, but we almost got a win."
Cole joined Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers in Major League history to strike out at least 11 in three consecutive starts to begin a season. What's more, he set a MLB record with 36 strikeouts in his first three starts with a team. The 14 strikeouts joined the Minute Maid Park record for an Astros pitcher, set by Bud Norris in 2010.
"Dude's been lights-out," Springer said. "He's really kept us in the game every start. He's been everything that we've heard, seen, hoped for, and I'm glad he's on our side."
Springer homered on the first pitch Hamels threw for his 20th career leadoff homer -- his first since he took Hamels deep on Opening Day in Arlington. Springer hit another opposite-field homer off Hamels to lead off the fifth to put the Astros ahead, 2-0. All three of his homers this year have been off the veteran lefty.
"That's just an at-bat I'm just trying to get something to hit and hit it," Springer said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Fisher's feet: Fisher has carved a niche for scoring game-winning runs. Of course, he's most notable for scoring the game-winning run from second base on Alex Bregman's walk-off hit in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series, and Bregman has driven him in with a game-winning hit twice already this year. On Friday, Fisher pinch-ran for Gattis at first base in the eighth and was rounding second when Gonzalez's single rolled past Robinson. Fisher scored easily from first.
"They'll combat the stolen base a ton, but that's not the only reason he's put in the game," Hinch said. "An example like that, where he can go first to home and score a run with the ball not even getting to the wall. The more comfortable he gets, obviously, the more trust we have."
Cole is the first pitcher in history to record 14 strikeouts in a game on 93 pitches or fewer. The previous record was 13 strikeouts by Alex Wood on 93 pitches in 2016.
HE SAID IT
"Probably at some point over a glass of wine or something maybe later." -- Cole, when asked if he would be able to appreciate some of the records he set Friday
Right-hander Charlie Morton (2-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his third start of the season in Saturday's 3:05 p.m. CT game against the Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Morton won both of his starts to begin the year, without allowing an earned run. He has struck out 17 batters and walked eight in that span. Lefty Mike Minor starts for Texas.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.