In was supposed to be an exciting moment for Gerrit Cole and the Pirates. Cole, the number one overall pick by the Pirates in the 2011 MLB Draft, was making his second Double-A start after dominating at High-A to the tune of a 5-1 record, a 2.55 ERA, over a strikeout per inning, and less than one walk every three. The game began as everyone had hoped. Cole, pitching for the Altoona Curve versus the Harrisburg Senators, was staked to a 1-0 lead on a Robbie Grossman leadoff homer before taking the mound and then retired the first two batters he faced, Eury Perez and Zach Walters, on a groundout on a strikeout. Then Cole unraveled a little bit, maybe he was nervous, allowing consecutive singles, all on groundballs, to Jesus Valdez, Tim Pahuta, and Justin Bloxom to score a run. But that was of little consequence compared to what happen next.
Destin Hood hit bullet line drive up the middle, right at Cole. Cole deflected it with his glove before the ball ball ricocheted just below his left ear. Cole immediately went down and the Altoona trainers sprinted out to the mound. Cole remained in the game and fell apart, allowing 3 runs total in the inning, and another line drive went his way before the inning was through. Sean Nicol hit another line drive up the middle, but this one Cole luckily deflected with his glove and nothing else. Cole exited following the inning because the swelling under his ear was getting increasingly worse.
The Pirates will take every precaution, giving Cole tests to make sure he doesn’t have a concussion and giving him at CT scan. But they hope that Cole will be fine before long and will not have to miss any starts or at least not more than one. Everyone involved has to be thankful that the situation didn’t turn out worse.