For two years, Pirate fans have been counting down the days until the debut of Gerrit Cole, and on Tuesday, the fans got what they were waiting for. Cole’s masterful performance made all the anticipation and hype worth the wait.
Cole blanked the defending World Series champion Giants through the first six innings of his Major League debut and led the Pirates to an 8-2 victory.
A PNC Park crowd of 30,614, a great crowd for a Tuesday night that included walk-up ticket sales exceeding 10,000, saw an incredible debut of a star in the making .
In 6 1/3 innings, Cole was charged with seven hits and two runs, as he struck out two without a walk. At one point, he had retired 13 straight batters until Andres Torres led off the seventh with a single that started a brief rally by the Giants.
Cole also delivered the Pirates’ first two runs with a second-inning, bases-loaded single.
When manager Clint Hurdle emerged to get Cole in the seventh, 30,614 Pirates fans came to their feet and roared with cheers to show Cole the respect that he had earned with his stellar performance.
Cole began his big league career when he struck out Gregor Blanco on three straight fastballs, the last reaching 99 mph. He would not strike out anybody else until he sat down Buster Posey in the sixth inning. It was the heat Cole threw and his control that really turned heads. He threw very few balls and walked no batters.
The Pirates loaded the bases in the second inning on three consecutive singles by Russell Martin, Pedro Alvarez, and Neil Walker. Tim Lincecum got Clint Barmes to foul out, before Cole ripped the ball into right-center for two runs. Upon reaching first, he threw up the Pirates’ signature “Z”.
In the fifth, the Pirates doubled Cole’s lead when Garrett Jones singled to right field. Hunter Pence let the ball under his glove and went to the wall. Jones went to third on the play and Andrew Mcutchen scored. Alvarez then knocked in Jones with a single off shortstop Brandon Crawford’s glove.
Starling Marte made it 5-0 in the sixth with a solo homer off Jose Mijares.
Cole surrendered two runs to the Giants in the seventh, but the Pirates answered right back with three runs in the bottom. Two of the runs came off Alvarez’s 14th homer of the season.