We're about midway through the 2013 MLB season, and the Pittsburgh Pirates — yes, those Pittsburgh Pirates — are quietly putting together their best campaign in 20 years. As of this morning, the Buccos are 38-26, which is good for third place in the way competitve NL Central. They're 4 games out of first, and a half game behind the Reds in the Wild Card race.
But Tuesday, the Pirates put the rest of the division — and league — on notice. They're serious about winning. Right now. And to prove it, they called up top prospect, pitcher Gerrit Cole.
The 22-year-old Cole was the top overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft. Since then he has played in the Pirates farm system and has been ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the league. In last night's game against the San Francisco Giants and their own ace Tim Lincecum, Cole earned his reputation.
Cole pitched 6 and a third innings and gave up two runs on seven hits. He threw 81 pitches, 59 of which were strikes, two strikeouts, and zero walks.
Not bad for a rookie pitcher in his MLB debut.
But he gave himself some run support, too.
In the bottom of the second with the bases loaded, Cole stepped to the plate for his first big-league at at. And, well, here's what happened:
The Pirates have been hanging around the top of the NL standings thanks to a solid starting rotation and one of the best bullpens in the majors. The Pirates lead the league in shutouts (10) and runs allowed (217), while closer Jason Grilli's 23 saves ties him with Mariano Rivera and Jim Johnson for the league lead.
As if the current pitching corps weren't scary enough, the Pirates addition of Cole to the rotation (and the batter's box!) might be what sends this team into its first winning season since 1992.
Photo: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic