Cole's latest strong outing makes history
Right-hander earns 30th career win in 53rd start with seven shutout innings vs. Braves
ATLANTA -- Emil Yde finally has company. So does Felix Hernandez.
As far as the Pirates are concerned, however, Gerrit Cole was incomparable in Sunday's 3-0 win over the Braves.
"Players heighten their focus when they go up against him. They scratch and claw and fight -- and he was able to push them back every time," manager Clint Hurdle said after the Pirates concluded their first 7-3 road trip since 2005. "A very, very strong outing."
The effort was Cole's 30th Major League win in his 53rd start, and the last Pirates pitcher to notch 30 wins as fast was Yde, a left-hander who did it from 1924-25. Nine of Cole's wins have come this season, making him the National League's first nine-game winner and the Majors' second, alongside the Mariners' Hernandez.
Which begged a couple of questions, both of which made Cole grin uncomfortably.
Any thoughts on matching Yde?
"No … no. Hopefully I can just get the next one, too."
Got a shot to start next month's All-Star Game?
"Huh … well, I got a shot to start six days from now."
Cole will get that extra day of rest between starts due to Thursday's off-day, and that scheduling was taken into account when Hurdle had him work through the seventh, giving him a career-high 116 pitches.
Evaluations by Cole and catcher Chris Stewart on how the pitcher felt coming off the mound after the sixth and 103 pitches also prompted Hurdle's decision.
Hurdle: "Had enough?"
Cole: "No. I'm good."
"And Stewart said he had the same stuff in the sixth as he had in the first," Hurdle said. "He made quality pitches, used them all again today, some four-seamers at 96-98 [mph] away, the curve-slider combination."
And Cole reached the new workload level on a hot day, 86 degrees with high humidity. The conditions bothered him no more than a couple of harrowing jams -- both partly of his own making. He loaded the bases in the third by hitting Freddie Freeman with a one-out pitch, and again in the sixth with consecutive two-out walks.
"I was all over the place, which is not typical of me," Cole said. "I wasn't very efficient and was missing a lot of spots. But we needed to bear down a couple of times, and fortunately things went our way in those situations. We had to put our foot down."
Speaking in those collective terms, on the other hand, is very typical of Cole. He managed to regard even a personal accomplishment through a team prism.
"This was a good win [after Saturday night's walk-off defeat]," Cole said. "We needed to put a bow on the whole trip."