HOUSTON -- When Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole struck out the side to start Monday’s game against the A’s at Minute Maid Park, it was only a matter of time before he reached 200 for the season. And he did it quicker than all but one other pitcher in Major League history.
Cole fanned Matt Olson on a 98 mph four-seam fastball in the fourth inning of the 11-1 win over the A’s for his sixth strikeout of the game, giving him 200 in 2019. He reached the milestone in 133 1/3 innings, which is the second fewest behind Randy Johnson (130 2/3 innings) in '01.
“It’s a nice accomplishment,” Cole said. “Any time you’re mentioned with the 'Unit,' that’s pretty special. He kind of goes down in folklore as one of the best pitchers of all time. Really cool statistic. Might have a glass of wine about it tonight. Outside of that, we got at least 13 more starts to go, so just keep the head down and just keep going.”
Cole ran into some issues in the first inning (4.50 ERA) early in the season, but he pitched with a high level of intensity on Monday to open the game. His fastball command was spotty early, but soon he and catcher Robinson Chirinos were working together to establish all four corners of the strike zone.
“The teams in our division are coming after us,” said Cole, who finished with 11 strikeouts in his 11th win of the season. “We got a lot of good teams in our division, and the first inning can sometimes be a bit challenging. Coming off a fresh series we played really good baseball, and I was looking forward to continuing it. I had the opportunity to kind of set the tone today. I was overshadowed a bit by the offense today.”
With seven innings of one-run ball, Cole improved to 7-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 11 starts since May 27, including 10 quality starts.
Cole leads the Majors in strikeouts (205) and strikeouts-per-nine innings (13.5). The Major League record for strikeouts-per-nine innings is 13.41 by Johnson in 2001. Monday also marked Cole’s Major League-leading 12th double-digit strikeout game this season. The franchise record is 14 by J.R. Richard in 1978-79.
“Don’t take for granted what he’s rolling out there every five days,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “It’s elite. He continues to set the intensity at the beginning of the game and keep a mindset that was incredible.”