BRADENTON, Fla. (9307 THE FAN) — Pirates’ prized pitching prospect Gerrit Cole had little trouble with Spain’s entry into the World Baseball Classic. He struck out first 6 batters he faced.

Any thoughts of throwing three perfect innings with 9 Ks disappeared when Spain’s leadoff hitter in the 3rd inning – the great Jesus Merchan – actually made contact and grounded out and then Yasser Gomez and Gabriel Suarez singled putting runners and first and third.

Cole picked the runner off first base then walked a batter before getting another ground out to cap off his 3 scoreless innings.

“It feels good,” Cole said about starting with 6 strikeouts. “Stuff was good, location was good; I’d have liked to have carried it a little better into the 3rd, I guess.”

Did he do anything differently in that 3rd inning?

“Not really; he just got a ball through the hole there. Then, the hit and run didn’t work in our favor. He hit the hole, too. We did a good job of minimizing,” he said.

Veteran Gaby Sanchez did a good job of maximizing. Getting some work at third base, Sanchez went 3-for-3 with a long homer into the new leftfield grandstand. Infielders Anderson Hernandez and Jeff Larish also homered.

Cole struckout Spain DH Rafael Alvarez to end the first inning and Alvarez’s bat flew into the 1B grandstand and hit an eldery spectator, but the gentleman shook it off and stayed in the game.

The Pirates play the Red Sox tomorrow afternoon in Fort Myers with Jeff Locke making his second straight start against Boston. Phil Irwin, Bryan Morris and Jared Hughes among those also also scheduled to see action.

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