Cole leads Pirates past Angels in homecoming
JUN 21, 2013 11:31p ET
It felt like every other start as the former UCLA and Orange Lutheran star as he took the field, stretched and began warming up.
Until suddenly, a familiar song made him realize that this start would, in fact, be different: This time, Cole was on the mound as a big leaguer.
“I think it hit me when I heard the “Calling all the Angels” (song) at the beginning of the game because I’ve been listening to that song since I was like six,” Cole said. “That’s kind of when it hit me.”
Reality also hit him in the seventh inning when Albert Pujols teed off on a fastball, sending it deep into the left field stands.
“At least it came to somebody who has done it like 500 times,” Cole said.
Pujols' homer went for naught, as the Angels fell 5-2. Cole earned the win and moved to 3-0 since his call up to the major leagues only 10 days ago. In his first start on the road, Cole worked a two-hit shutout until giving up the home run to Pujols.
The line on Cole was two earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts in six and 1/3 innings. His fastball regularly touched 100 mph as he electrified a crowd of 40,136 at Angel Stadium with an array of pitches that made him a two-time first-round draft pick.
“He pitched like he was pitching in front of his friends and family, that's what he did,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. “He was geared up a little bit, there was a little more adrenaline tonight, there was some zip in his step. He got after it, not that he didn't before, but it just seemed like he was pitching in front of family back in his hometown. He wasn't going to let anybody down.”
“He’s a power arm,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. “The ball comes out hot. He was pounding the zone with good stuff.”
Cole faced another local product in Jered Weaver (1-4), creating an intriguing storyline. Weaver grew up in Northridge, had an equally decorated college career just up the 405 at Long Beach State and a fast path to major league success as well.
Weaver gave up four earned on nine hits, including two home runs in just the second inning. Weaver’s velocity hovered around the mid-to-high 80s, a considerable drop from recent years and noticeable when compared to Cole’s numbers.
It could signal a changing of the guard.
“The radar readings are what they are, I’m not going to look into that too much,” Weaver said. “I’m not throwing 93 anymore, those days are over. I’ve just got to locate what I’ve got.”
But that old guard still has plenty left in the tank to test Cole and other young pitchers. Watching Pujols drive his out pitch – a 94 mph four-seam fastball – over the fence with ease brought him back to earth.
“The best guys are fun (to face) because they hit really good pitches and you don’t even worry about throwing strikes to them, you just worry about throwing quality pitches because they can hit anything in the zone,” Cole said. “I definitely got some stuff to work on so hopefully I’ll attack that…
“I just try to keep getting better.”
+ SHOW COMMENTS +