Gerrit Cole dominated in exactly the way we've been hoping for from him as he and Tony Sanchez led Indianapolis to an 11-0 thrashing of Columbus Friday night.
Cole struck out five and walked just one while allowing two hits over seven innings. He threw mostly 92-94 MPH in the first inning, and worked that up over the course of the game until he was sitting at 95-96. He also touched 98 at least once. I didn't have a great view of his stuff, but it looked like he was getting lots of swings and misses with his changeup, which he kept down.
After seven, Cole was replaced by Duke Welker, who struggled to throw strikes at first but did throw very hard, usually popping Sanchez's mitt with 96-MPH heat. After that, Zack Thornton -- who was just promoted to Indianapolis after posting excellent results at Bradenton and Altoona -- took over. (Look at Thornton's stats, and then check out his profile picture. You'd be pretty happy if you had numbers like that, too.) Anyway, the Pirates acquired Thornton for Chris Resop last offseason, and I figured he was a non-prospect, due to his age and the fact that he was drafted in the 23rd round. I still think that's probably true, but even he was pretty interesting, throwing harder than I thought he would (92-93 MPH), and with a low arm angle. He had a couple balls hit hard against him, but his stuff was surprising. Maybe there's some fragment of a chance he'll help out as a righty-killer coming out of the Pirates' bullpen.
Every time I go to see Indianapolis play at Columbus, the differences between the Pirates and Indians organizations (that is, the Cleveland Indians, who have Columbus as an affiliate) are striking. The Clippers pitchers, in particular, never seem to top 90 (although neither Carlos Carrasco, who most assuredly does top 90, nor Trevor Bauer pitched tonight), and practically everybody on the Indianapolis staff the past couple years seems to.
Anyway, the Clippers' starter tonight was Joe Martinez, who you may remember from the Pirates trading Javier Lopez to get him and John Bowker. Practically everybody on the Indianapolis roster smacked Martinez around, but the Clippers just left him out there to get crushed. Indianapolis had 19 hits, including four doubles and three homers (from Matt Hague, who hit a ball farther than I've ever seen from him, along with Jerry Sands and Tony Sanchez). That there were only seven extra-base hits undersells the damage Indianapolis was doing -- the right field wall in Columbus is very shallow, which makes it very hard to double to that area of the park, and several of Indianapolis' singles would have been doubles elsewhere. Sanchez and Felix Pie each had four hits, and Hague and Josh Harrison had three, but it was Sanchez who stood out -- in addition to his homer, he also doubled and had one of the long right-field singles where he had to stop at first.
It was an impressive outing for Indianapolis, even if some of the Clippers' pitchers aren't really representative of the sorts of stuff one sees in the majors most of the time. I spent most of the game chatting with two guys, one of whom was a Cleveland Indians fan and one a Pirates fan. They both knew a ton about baseball and about their teams, so they were a great couple of guys with whom to see a game between the Pirates' and Indians' affiliates. The Indians fan was having a good laugh at some Cleveland fans' suggestion that Clippers closer Preston Guilmet -- who I don't think I saw top 88 -- might fill the currently up-in-the-air closer position with the big-league club. The truth is that so many Clippers pitchers seem to lack velocity that it almost seems to be a part of some bizarro-world scouting philosophy. It's exactly the sort of thing you would have seen from a Pirates affiliate during Dave Littlefield's reign of terror. I'm glad things are different now.
Altoona lost, 7-3, to Portland. The Curve got just four hits, although those included a homer by Andrew Lambo and a double by Alex Dickerson. The Altoona pitchers were Jason Townsend and a bunch of minor-league veterans in David Bromberg, Luis Angel Sanz, and Kenn Kasparek. Townsend allowed two runs and a walk in one inning of work, although he struck out three.
Bradenton beat Jupiter, 3-0. Eliecer Navarro pitched seven terrific innings, striking out seven while allowing three hits and one walk. Carlos Mesa went 2-for-3 with a double. Alen Hanson went 0-for-4, Gregory Polanco 1-for-4.
West Virginia beat Lakewood, 4-3. Stetson Allie hit his 15th homer of the season; he's currently hitting .337/.415/.634. Orlando Castro allowed one run in six innings, striking out six and walking none. He has 54 strikeouts and five walks in 61.2 innings this season. Jason Creasy pitched the other three innings and allowed two runs, although he struck out three and walked none.