Gerrit Cole hopes certain trends from his latest start for the Pittsburgh Pirates carry over while others can be chalked up as just an anomaly.
Coming off an odd outing he didn't quite know how to feel about, Cole looks to deliver the Pirates a series sweep over the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks in the finale of a 10-game homestand Thursday.
Pittsburgh (26-19) opened the series with Tuesday's 12-1 blowout and topped the Diamondbacks (21-27) 5-4 on Wednesday - the club's third straight win in this series and 11th in the last 14 meetings.
David Freese launched a two-run homer some 451 feet to cap a four-run fifth inning, and Sean Rodriguez also homered for the Pirates. Rodriguez, subbing for an ill Josh Harrison at second base, now has five home runs - one more than all of last season.
Putting their ace on the mound for the finale suggests they can close the homestand 8-2, though questions lingered after Cole's Friday outing.
On the surface, the 2-1 win over Colorado looked like another step in the right direction. In reality, it was a shaky outing that Cole almost felt lucky to win. Stellar defense behind him kept runs off the board, and Cole (5-3, 2.79 ERA) pitched around 10 hits without a strikeout to hold the Rockies to one run through seven innings.
It was the second straight game Cole has tossed seven or more innings after failing to do so over his first six starts. But after averaging nearly a strikeout per inning over his first 80 big-league starts, Cole went without one for the first time.
"I guess it just shows you there's a bunch of different ways you can cut the cake," Cole told MLB's official website. "We're out there pitching for wins, not for stat lines. I wasn't able to create as many swing and misses as I needed to, but when your defense is playing like that, you'd be stupid not to trust them."
Cole will try to grab his fourth straight win by improving on his 3.10 ERA in three career outings against Arizona. The right-hander split a pair of starts against the Diamondbacks last season, allowing five runs and striking out 12 in 14 1/3 innings.
He'll face Patrick Corbin, who just picked up his first win in over a month.
Corbin (2-3, 3.99) snapped a five-start winless streak in Friday's 11-7 victory at St. Louis. The left-hander held the Cardinals to four hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings while walking four and striking out seven.
"I felt good, just a little frustrated with the four walks," Corbin said.
Once again, Corbin helped himself at the plate with a single - his sixth hit of the season - and a run scored.
He has pitched particularly well over his last three starts, compiling a 2.29 ERA while striking out 16 in 19 2/3 innings. Corbin has a 2.01 ERA on the road compared to a 6.48 mark at home.
One of those rough home outings came April 22 against the Pirates, who rocked him for seven hits and five runs - four earned - in six innings of an 8-7 victory. Jordy Mercer, Rodriguez and Gregory Polanco each homered off Corbin.