Tonight, quite simply, Gerrit Cole pitched one of the very best games ever pitched by a Houston Astros pitcher. No, it was not a no-hitter, there have been 11 of those in Houston Astros history, but in all those games only one other pitcher, Darryl Kile, surrendered as few as the 2 base runners allowed by Cole tonight. Cole had a one hit , complete game shutout, and struck out 16 batters, second most in a single game by an Astros pitcher, behind only Don Wilson, and tied with Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. Yeah, those guys. Mike Scott, in his iconic no-hitter, had 13 K’s and allowed 3 base runners. In his only Astros no-hitter, Nolan Ryan allowed 3 base runners and had 14 K’s.
I cannot imagine that any Astros pitcher has had a five week stretch as magnificent as the first five weeks as an Astro of Gerrit Cole. Even before tonight he set an MLB record for most strikeouts in April, 61. In seven games he now has 77. In five of his seven starts he has had 11 or more strikeouts. He has had 14 or more strikeouts twice already as an Astro, as many as Nolan Ryan had in his entire 10+ year Astros career.
Needless to say he leads the league in strikeouts and in K rate, and is very near the top in ERA with 1.42. This is consistent with his phenomenal FIP, only 1.57. He is striking out 40% of the batters he is facing, and only allowing 0.79 base runners per inning (WHIP).
Tonight Cole shutdown a hot Arizona Diamondbacks team that ranks fourth in the National League in OPS, surrendering only one hit and one walk. He threw 114 pitches, 82 for strikes, 22 of those swings and misses.
On any other night the big story in this game would normally be the resurrection of an Astros offense that was generally so anemic in the previous series against the much despised New York Yankees. Tonight the Astros broke out against the recently recalled from AAA pitcher Kris Medlen, who was knocked out in the fourth inning, having allowed 7 runs, 9 hits, and 4 walks.
George Springer was 5-3 with 3 runs, Jose Altuve was 2-4 with an RBI and 3 runs, Carlos Correa was 2-5 with 3 RBI and 1 run, and Yuli Guriel finally slayed the BABIP dragon, going 4-5, with 3 RBI and 1 run scored. Every position player had at least one hit except Jake Marisnick, who was robbed of a home run on a Sport Center play by Jarrod Dyson.
The mystery of the backwards Astros home/away batting splits continues. The Astros before tonight at home had the 15th ranked OPS in the AL at .652. On the road they rank 1st at .806. Strangely, the pitchers are also significantly worse at home, with a 3.05 ERA (still best in the league) but an even stingier 2.12 on the road. Is there kryptonite hidden away in the Astros dugout at Minute Maid? The team record at home is 10-9. Away the record is 11-4.
No rest for weary Diamondback hitters. Tomorrow they face the Stros’ “5th” starter, Charlie Morton (4-0, 1.72 ERA). He faces the D-Backs ace, Zack Greinke, (3-2, 4.50 ERA). Game time 7:10 CDT.
Watch Gerrit Cole strike out sixteen Diamondbacks here
Box Score here