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Cole defends actions after Martinez hit-by-pitch

DETROIT -- Gerrit Cole took an obviously reluctant turn Wednesday afternoon to answer Victor Martinez's accusation and sentiment.

The Detroit DH had said postgame the Cole pitch that hit him midway through the Pirates' 5-4, 14-inning win Tuesday night had been intentional, and for that he had no respect for the player, his team and its coaches.

"I mean, that's his opinion, man," said Cole. "Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I can't control who he respects and who he doesn't."

The Tuesday night dust-up had begun with Tigers starter Justin Verlander hitting Starling Marte in the top of the fourth, with Cole hitting Martinez in the bottom of the inning. When Verlander also hit Pedro Alvarez in the fifth, plate umpire Chris Segal warned both benches -- without repercussion when reliever Blaine Hardy nailed Gregory Polanco in the eighth.

After the game -- which he had ended by grounding into a double play -- Martinez had his say:

"Yeah, everyone knows that [he hit me on purpose]. I mean, I have no respect for no one on that team, including Cole and their coaching staff. If they think that Verlander hit Marte with a 1-2 count, he was battling that at-bat. If they really think we did it on purpose, they're playing the wrong sport. Nothing else to say."

Manager Clint Hurdle had only a brief reaction.

"I wasn't aware that [Martinez] was the voice of reason," said Hurdle, adding that he is "never surprised by what players say."

Surrounded by media in Comerica Park's visiting clubhouse, Cole was visibly uncomfortable discussing the subject. But he made himself available in front of his locker for what he knew were inevitable questions and didn't use the "it got away" crutch when asked whether Verlander's or his response pitches were intentional.

"I don't know. It was a 1-2 count, and [Verlander] hit [Marte] on the wrist or forearm. Got him pretty good," said Cole. "[To Martinez] I let one go inside.

"No doubt our guys are getting attacked inside," added Cole, addressing whether that pattern is having a cumulative effect. "It happened the rest of the night. We got hit three times."

Is it a case of counter-attack by opposition pitchers? The Pirates take pride in the pitching philosophy behind their success of, as Cole reiterated, "owning your inner half of the plate, pitching aggressively."

Since the start of the 2013 season, Pirates' hitters have been hit 210 times. Pittsburgh pitchers have hit 184 batters. Both are Major League highs.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast.
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