It took Gerrit Cole just seven pitches to retire the first three batters he faced Friday.
However, in his fifth Double-A start, Cole needed to throw 80 pitches to get the next 13 outs.
Last year's No. 1 overall pick in the MLB draft went 5 1/3 innings against Erie, and Cole (2-3) gave up three runs - two earned - on three hits and took the loss. After the game, in which the Curve were blanked, 3-0, Cole said there are certainly things he is trying to improve on, and pitch efficiency is high on his list.
"I don't get a lot of pitches to throw," Cole said. "So I need to be better, not necessarily getting ahead of guys, but maybe putting them away, somehow sooner. I don't quite have the answer yet, but I'm getting there."
The Curve and SeaWolves were scheduled to play a doubleheader Friday, but were no able to due to rain. The game, which went only seven innings, was delayed an hour and three minutes at the start and then was stopped for an hour and nine minutes as it poured in the middle of the sixth inning.
The two teams will now play a doubleheader tonight to makeup the game, and there is also a twinbill on the schedule for Sunday as the two teams were rained out Thursday. Erie is currently making its last visit to Altoona this season.
Tonight: Erie at Altoona, Doubleheader with game one at 6 p.m.
Pitchers: Game one - Curve RHP Phil Irwin (1-7, 3.63) vs. TBD; Game two - Curve RHP Mike Colla (3-4, 3.33) vs. TBD
Covering the bases
LEADING OFF: The Curve and SeaWolves will play a combined four games today and Sunday in the form of two doubleheaders. This season, the Curve are 2-10 in games that are part of doubleheaders.
SAFE AT FIRST: CF Robbie Grossman was 3-for-3 Friday and also walked once. Grossman entered the night leading the Eastern League in walks and now has 56 on the season.
STEALING SECOND: Bradenton, the Pirates' High-A affiliate, got to face a major league arm Friday. New York Yankees RHP Joba Chamberlain was making a rehab appearance for Tampa and threw two innings against Bradenton. Chamberlain gave up two run and two hits, including a leadoff homer to Dan Grovatt.
ROUNDING THIRD: While RHP Gerrit Cole, the Pirates top prospect pitched Friday, fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field also got to see Erie OF Nick Castellanos, the Tigers top prospect. In game one, Castellanos, who was the MVP of the MLB Futures Game earlier this month, was 1-for-3 with a single.
HEADING HOME: 1B Matt Curry was out of the lineup for the third straight game Friday. Curve manager P.J. Forbes said Curry, who is hitting .311 this year, was sidelined with a sinus infection, but is expected to return to the lineup tonight.
- Stephen Pianovich
Cole entered the game with just two walks in his first four starts, but he lacked some command as 37 of his 87 pitches were out of the strike zone and he issued three walks as well as hitting a batter.
In what seems to be typical of Cole, the velocity on the UCLA product's fastball rose throughout the game and he was in the 95-96 mph range in the sixth inning. He ended up with five strikeouts and his season ERA dropped a bit to 4.71.
All three runs the SeaWolves scored against Cole came from a pair two-out, seeing-eye singles off the bat of Michael Rockett.
The first was on a bizarre play in the second inning when Rockett sent a groundball through the right side of the infield with Avisail Garcia on second base. The ball got by Curve right fielder Quincy Latimore, Garcia scored easily and Rockett raced to third base on the play.
Latimore attempted to throw out Rockett, but third baseman Stefan Welch missed the ball, allowing Rockett to score, and both Latimore and Welch were charged with errors on the play. Rockett struck again in the fifth inning as he had a grounder find its way to the outfield - this time to the left side - for another RBI single.
"I let them get hits with runners in scoring position, so guys are going to score when you do that" Cole said. "There are a lot of positives, but there are some negatives that you have to look at as well [about Friday's start]."
Cole has been on an odd schedule since he pitched in the MLB Futures game on July 8. In the month of July, Cole has made just three starts for the Curve, and he said he's hoping to get back on a normal schedule.
"It's been a challenge," Cole said. "But I'm just kind of looking forward to moving forward and getting on a five-day and going from there."
The Curve were able to outhit Erie, 7-5, but came away with nothing to show for it. Robbie Grossman was 3-for-3 and Welch had two hits, but the other seven players in the lineup combined to go 2-for-21.
Curve manager P.J. Forbes said he was not pleased with his team's performance.
"What affects our team is we don't show up. For me that's plain and simple," Forbes said before adding "It's frustrating. But it can't come from the coaching staff, it has to come from the players."
Key player: Erie LF Michael Rockett was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Key play: On a single by Rockett in the second inning, the Curve made two errors allowing two runners - including Rockett - to cross the plate.
Key stat: In their last seven games, the Curve have been shutout twice in addition to being no-hit Sunday.
How they scored
Top 2nd: Garcia walked, scored on Rockett single, errors by Latimore and Welch scored Rockett on the play (0-2).
Top 4th: Garcia walked, scored on Rockett single (0-3).