By Rob Rossi
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole throws against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning of the National League wild card baseball game , Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
More winning. Less jawing. And better pitching.
The Pirates need all of that in the biggest games from Gerrit Cole.
They needed it Wednesday night.
Cole was horrendous and the reason the Pirates never were in position to win a National League wild-card game they lost to the Chicago Cubs, 4-0.
He needed to stick around for more than five innings.
He needed to not allow a first-inning run, then a two-run homer in the third and a solo shot in the fifth.
He needed more first-pitch strikes.
And he needed more composure throughout, even after manager Clint Hurdle rightfully — if not mercifully — pulled him.
“It's not like they didn't go out there and win the game. They definitely did,” Cole said. “We didn't go out there and give it to them.”
No, the Pirates didn't go out there and give it to the Cubs. Cole did, though.
His margin for error was not slim. It was none.
As soon as he gave up that first run, the Pirates were done. Cole gave up that first run before he recorded an out.
Another postseason blacked-out crowd would have been better off had Cole never stepped onto the mound. Or if ceremonial first-pitcher Bob Walk had stayed on the mound.
Aces flip the switch. Aces don't flip out.
So it wasn't a good look for Cole that his best stuff Wednesday night came when he jawed at the Cubs during a benches-and-bullpen-clearing fracas in the seventh inning.
Cole isn't an ace. He's the Pirates' best starting pitcher.
There is a big difference.
Had the Pirates an ace, they might have played more baseball each of these last three Octobers.
An ace, St. Louis' Adam Wainwright, took them out two years ago.
An ace, San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, took them out last year.
An ace, Chicago's Jake Arrieta, just took them out again.
The Pirates have scored one run in their past three postseason games. Two of those were wild-card contests. The other was on the road in a decisive Game 5 of the division series.
They keep talking about winning the division. They better start backing up that talk.
Top-end talent is what plays when a season is on the line, and the Pirates aren't competitive at postseason baseball's most important position.
That would be starting pitching.
And that would be according to Pirates general manager Neal Huntington.
He's assembled a deep roster, maybe baseball's best. But the Pirates are bluffing as a true championship contender.
Those clubs can throw aces. Right now.
Cole might become one. Cole probably will become one.
He's 25 and has pitched fewer than three full seasons.
He'll be great.
He just might not be great enough in time for the Pirates to win while Andrew McCutchen is still great.
Or even while McCutchen is still a Pirate.
And that's a big problem.
Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/robrossi/9150714-74/pirates-cole-run#ixzz3nyA7JFgI
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook