Cole Still Hot, Bats Still Not

Astros, Gerrit Cole, George Springer Pull it Out Against Ranger 3-2

On a night overshadowed by American cruise missiles striking targets in Syria, the newest Astros starter, Gerrit Cole, continued his aggression against American League hitters, targeting the Rangers for a career high 14 strike outs. In three starts as an Astro, Cole has 36 K’s. His average of 12 K’s per start equals his previous career high as a Pirate. His ERA is 1.29, with a WHIP of 0.67.

On the offensive side George Springer provided most of the run support, duplicating his opening day performance with a lead-off home run against his new bff, Cole Hamels, the 20th lead-off homer of his career. He did a replay in the 5th, striking his second homer of the game just a few feet from the first in right center field with no one on base. It was his third of the season. The entire offense managed only eight hits.

Meanwhile Cole tied a Minute Maid Park record with his 14 strike outs, but he got a no-decision after surrendering solo homers to Joey Gallo and Robinson Chirino in the seventh. For Cole that is three home runs in three games, the only runs he has allowed. Nit picking perhaps, but one hopes this doesn’t represent a repeat of the pattern he followed last year when he gave up 31 homers in 33 games.

Cole breezed through four innings, allowing only one infield hit to Isiah Kinser-Falefa in his big-league debut. But in the fifth he pitched out of trouble after walking Ronald Guzman, another newbie Ranger, with one out. He then hit Chirinos, and then put these runners on second and third with a wild pitch. But Cole then struck out the next two batters extinguishing the threat.

The Astros’ go ahead run came in the eight inning. After Evan Gattis’ walk, Derek Fisher came in as a pinch-runner. Stealing on the pitch, Fisher scored the go-ahead run, as he has done so often recently, on Marwin Gonzalez’ single to center, which was bobbled by Drew Robinson for a two base error. Chris Devenski mopped up the ninth, masterfully mixing his circle change, slider and 96 mph fastball to strike out the side and notch his first save of the year

The winning pitcher was Joe Smith.

The Rangers were without Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, and Delino DeShields for this game.

Questions for Discussion.

Considering the improvement of Gerrit Cole, is pitching coach Brent Strom really this good?

What is the role of Ken Giles this year?