Cole fires gem on his birth­day

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Kristie Rieken

HOUS­TON — Ger­rit Cole had a spe­cial game on his 29th birth­day Sun­day.

If not for Shed Long’s homer into the short porch in left field, the day would have been per­fect.

Cole al­lowed one hit with 15 strike­outs in a sea­son-high eight in­nings, and the Hous­ton Astros routed Felix Her­nan­dez and the Seat­tle Mariners 21-1 to com­plete a fourgame sweep.

“He makes it look pretty easy,” Astros man­ager AJ Hinch said. “He was locked in com­mand-wise, in­ten­sity-wise.”

Cole (16-5) won his 12th straight de­ci­sion and joined Pe­dro Martinez as the only pitch­ers in ma­jor league his­tory with 14 or more strike­outs in three straight games. Cole leads the ma­jor league with a ca­reer-high 281 strike­outs, and his 2.73 ERA in sec­ond in the AL be­hind the 2.52 for team­mate Justin Ver­lan­der.

One of the tough­est parts of Cole’s day was stay­ing loose.

“I’m not com­plain­ing, but it was chal­leng­ing a cou­ple times when you’re scor­ing that many runs,” he stuff­wise, said.

Chris Deven­ski struck out two in a per­fect ninth, fin­ish­ing a se­ries in which Hous­ton outscored the Mariners 41-15.

Jake Maris­nick and Ge­orge Springer home­red, and rookie Yor­dan Al­varez had a sea­son-high six RBIs and hit three of Hous­ton’s team-record 11 dou­bles. The Astros are 16-1 against Seat­tle this year.

Af­ter beat­ing Bal­ti­more 23-2 ear­lier this sea­son, Sun­day’s win made the Astros the first team to win two games by 20 or more runs in a sea­son since the New York Yan­kees in 1939.

TIM WARNER/GETTY

With 40 strike­outs in his last three starts, Ger­rit Cole is 19 shy of 300 for the sea­son.

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