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Cole's injury hangs over Astros after loss

@brianmctaggart
August 14, 2019

CHICAGO -- There has been no better pitcher in baseball the last 2 1/2 months than Gerrit Cole, who was set to carry a 10-0 record and 1.98 ERA in his previous 14 starts into the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field. Cole’s terrific run in the

CHICAGO -- There has been no better pitcher in baseball the last 2 1/2 months than Gerrit Cole, who was set to carry a 10-0 record and 1.98 ERA in his previous 14 starts into the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Cole’s terrific run in the rotation, including back-to-back American League Pitcher of the Month awards, hit a road bump only minutes before the Astros’ 4-1 loss to the White Sox in Game 2 when he was scratched with right hamstring discomfort.

Box score

Manager AJ Hinch said that acting pitching coach Josh Miller called the dugout only minutes before the game started and told Hinch that Cole’s hamstring wasn’t feeling good while warming up and that he didn’t feel he could continue. Reliever Chris Devenski started the game because he already was on his way out to the bullpen.

“He’s usually the first reliever out there anyway, so we raced to get him ready, scratched Cole from his start, and he came in to see the trainers and got some treatment,” Hinch said. “We’ll get him tested even further and see where this takes us. He doesn’t think it’s that serious. I’m glad he told us, and we hope it was mild.”

Hinch said that Cole, who wasn’t available to speak to reporters after the game, hadn’t reported any previous hamstring issues.

“I’m glad he told us, because it’s important for him not to try to work through that,” Hinch said. “It’s his back leg, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

So instead of sending their Cy Young candidate to the mound, the Astros patched together eight innings behind a steady stream of relievers, beginning with Devenski, who gave up three runs on five hits in two innings. Only one run was earned because of a two-out fielding error by Devenski on a Ryan Cordell dribbler that was followed by a two-run single in the second by Ryan Goins.

“Devo did great,” Hinch said. “He just didn’t field his position.”

Joe Biagini allowed one run on two hits in three innings, throwing 39 pitches. Héctor Rondón threw two scoreless innings, and Joe Smith worked a scoreless eighth. Biagini was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock after the game so the Astros could have a fresh arm for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale.

The only reliever who didn’t pitch in either game of Tuesday’s doubleheader was closer Roberto Osuna, who warmed up late in the Astros’ 6-2 win over the White Sox in Game 1.

“A doubleheader will do that to you in general, and then you lose your starter five minutes before the game,” Hinch said. “Biagini picked us up, Devo started and got a couple of innings in. We didn’t play particularly well in the second game, but we used a lot of pitching.”

The Astros were held to four singles in a complete game by White Sox starter Ivan Nova (8-9), who became the second Chicago pitcher to throw a complete game against Houston this year. Lucas Giolito shut out the Astros on May 23 in Houston.

"We couldn't get the ball off the ground with any sort of effectiveness,” Hinch said. “He continued to throw his fastball, changeup, an occasional slider. He was in command and getting some early outs. We just pounded the ball into the ground a little bit too much. That's what he does when he's right. He threw a lot of strikes. A lot of quiet offense for us, but a lot of it was what he was doing in moving his pitches around, changing some speeds and keeping the ball on the ground."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.