Gerrit Cole allowed five runs on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings in a rehab start last week, but the Pirates insisted they weren’t worried about those results and it appears that their confidence was well-placed.
Cole was sensational in his latest rehab outing Sunday with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, yielding just one hit over six scoreless innings. He struck out three and did not walk a batter. The right-hander only threw 73 pitches, which might preclude the Bucs from activating him this week, but the outing can still be considered a great sign of progress.
Cole has been on the disabled list for over a month with discomfort in his right lat muscle and suffered a minor setback at the beginning of August. He also missed time with a shoulder injury earlier this season.
The 23-year-old former first overall pick boasts a 3.46 ERA and 1.227 WHIP through his first 203 innings at the major league level. The Pirates — who are currently 2 1/2 games back of the Brewers in the National League Central standings — need him to be ace-like down the stretch.
The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.
The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.
Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.
After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.