Gerrit Cole picked up a win in his big-league debut as the Pirates beat the Giants 8-2 before a loud crowd at PNC Park Tuesday night.
In mid-June, with the Penguins' season over and with the Pirates' best pitching prospect in years on the hill, this was a terrific way for the 2013 Pirates to introduce themselves to many casual fans. (Daniel Dudley asked me a question the other day about the timing of Cole's start with regard to the Penguins, and he was right to ask it -- today was a big day.) Cole allowed two runs over 6.1 innings, striking out two and walking one; you can read much more about his start in this report by David Manel, who is at PNC.
Clint Hurdle tried to put Cole's debut in context.
"I've seen some pretty good debuts before," Hurdle said. "Go check out Jason Jennings' debut in the majors leagues when he was with Colorado. That's where my bar's set, and this guy, he came close."
"Did [Jennings] do it against the defending World Champions?" Cole joked in response.
Cole loaded the bases in the second (before getting Marco Scutaro to end it), but otherwise had little trouble until the seventh.
Cole also helped his cause by poking an opposite-field single with the bases loaded in the second, bringing home two runs. The Pirates then extended their lead to 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez. Then in the sixth, Starling Marte -- who's been quiet recently -- smashed a line-drive homer to left to make it 5-0.
Cole finally got into trouble in the seventh, giving up two singles and then a double down the line by Tony Abreu. The Pirates then pulled him, and he received a standing ovation as he left.
"I was trying not to look up, because I felt like I was going to smile," said Cole.
Russell Martin was impressed by Cole's performance.
"He keeps the fastball down in the zone," Martin said. "It just has that heavy feeling when you catch it. ... It's anywhere from 95 to 98 (MPH), powerful, he hides the ball well. He's pretty special.
"He's got the best fastball I've ever caught from a starter. There's no question."
After Cole left, the Bucs weren't done. Their first two batters reached in the bottom of the seventh, and Russell Martin brought one home with a grounder up the middle. Then Pedro Alvarez hit one of his trademark hulk-smash homers to make it 8-2. Bryan Morris struck out four batters in two scoreless innings of relief to end it.
David Manel contributed to this post.