The ace was back. Cole was effectively mowing down the powerful Red Sox lineup with two down and no one on base in the 5th inning. Cole was at 57 pitches and staring at a deep outing on Opening Day at historic Fenway Park. A quick five batters later and Cole surrendered five earned runs and his day was done after just five innings and 76 pitches.
Cole’s five-run 5th inning started when Jackie Bradley Jr. ripped one off the right field wall that almost was a home run. McCutchen bobbled picking up the ball, but Bradley was awarded with a triple. He scored on the next play as Pablo Sandoval, the $95 million dollar man for the Red Sox, beat out an infield single. Yes, an infield single. Pablo hit a ball in the hole and Mercer got to it, but couldn’t make a great throw on it to get Sandoval. Sandy Leon singled next on a well-placed bunt against the shift and Cole had no chance at getting to. With two on, two out, Dustin Pedroia singled for the fourth straight hit of the inning to make it 2-0 and rookie Andrew Benintendi ripped a 2-2 pitch into RF for a home and a quick 5-run outburst of offense for Boston. Cole did get the third out two batters later to finish the inning, but that was it for him today.
While the inning suddenly out of nowhere as Cole was cruising through four plus innings is a head scratcher, he also looked really good in this start before the 5th inning. Velocity was up where he blew Mitch Moreland away on a 99 MPH heater. Obviously, I want to see more from Cole before I start burning things down around me, but I give him the benefit of the doubt because of the loaded Red Sox lineup that we’ll do this to a lot of great pitchers this season.
The Bucs did battle back off of Rick Porcello with three runs of their own in the 7th inning on RBI singles by JHay and Jordy Mercer and a third run via a sacrifice fly that was ripped by Starling Marte that Benintendi made a hell of a running catch on.
They threatened again in the 9th off Boston closer Craig Kimbrel with two on, but Marte fouled out to end the game. Adam Frazier was on base four times (hit, walk, HBP, error), David Freese recorded two hits and Cervelli and Josh Bell each recorded a double off the Green Monster.