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Pirates’ Cole excited to face red-hot Arrieta in NL wild card
PITTSBURGH — Pirates ace Gerrit Cole will face the hottest pitch in the major leagues when Pittsburgh hosts the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday in the National League wild card game, and the 25-year-old right-hander couldn’t be more excited.
Pitching for the Cubs will be right-hander Jake Arrieta, who went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA in 33 starts this season, including an amazing 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA in 15 starts.
“It’s special,” Cole said. “I think I’ve said it all along as (manager Clint Hurdle) continued to put me in big games. It’s vote of confidence, it’s trust, it’s acknowledgement for the hard work that you put in to put yourself in that position. At the same time, this is a team game. It’s not all one player. We have to go out and win the game. I just have to keep us in a stone’s throw, I guess.”
Cole certainly kept the Pirates in most of his 32 starts this season, going 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA. The 25-year-old also went 4-1 in six September starts, though his ERA was 3.29.
Cole made two starts against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 National League Division Series, going 1-1 with a 2.45 EA. He did not appear in the postseason last year as Edinson Volquez was the losing pitcher when the Pirates lost to the San Francisco Giants in the wild card.
“I love pitching in big games and there’s never been bigger games than those two games against the Cardinals for me,” Cole said. “I’m really looking forward to experiencing the postseason. There’s nothing better.”
Cole made his last regular-season start Sept. 30, beating the Cardinals. Thus, he will be pitched on six days of rest instead of the normal four.
However, Cole has no concerns about being rusty.
“We had a couple opportunities this year where we’ve had extra rest, and I thought we’ve used those to our advantage quite well,” Cole said.
Cole is 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA against the Cubs this season, allowing 20 hits and four walks in 25 2/3 innings with 33 strikeouts, and 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA in nine career starts.
Arrieta is 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA against the Pirates this year, giving up 18 hits and five walks in 36 innings with 33 strikeouts, and is 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA in nine career starts.
The Cubs won the regular-season series with the Pirates, 11-8.