Gerrit Cole, the Pirates' 22-year-old designated wunderkind, became the first pitcher for any team ever to beat Cy Young winners in each of the first two major-league starts of his career, an astounding and interesting note delivered by the Elias Sports Bureau. Something even more unbelievable: The Pirates expect more from Cole. And what's more, the Pirates expect better. Yep, those Pittsburgh Pirates, who suddenly have standards. There's a new feel around the Pirates these days, where the team hasn't posted a winning record since a skinny positional phenom named Barry Bonds left town more than two decades ago. The Pirates winning half their games has to be the most obvious goal of any team in baseball, yet it's rarely if ever mentioned. They want more, much more. The now 41-29 Pirates, who are in a genuine contending position into late June for maybe the second time PB (Post Bonds), speak only about the postseason. They don't talk about .500. In the same spirit, Pirates people aren't exactly gushing over what looks like a boffo beginning for Cole, the No. 1 pick overall in the 2011 draft only two years out of UCLA, and one of a few reasons the Pirates' future looks a lot better than their recent past. Cole was beating Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke in his first two starts, and people in the Pirates' organization were thinking that he has to be better. That's something different for them. The Pirates, who have lived about the most real existence of any team going, are probably just being realistic about Cole's beginning. If you looked closely, Cole got past the Giants and Dodgers on velocity, adrenaline, enthusiasm and competitiveness. He only lasted 12 innings. And, despite hitting 99 mph on the gun, he struck out only three batters. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound right-hander, who was the No. 1 overall pick out of UCLA in the 2011 draft, had his monster fastball for both games, but little else. Still, he got by, and that's a positive sign in itself.
Cole the Pirates' great, big hope
CBS Sports | Jun 18