Jarred Cosart may have dreamed of making a good impression on his major league debut, but not even he could have hoped for a grander entrance.
The rookie pitcher was called up on Wednesday night from AAA Oklahoma City RedHawks, and thrust straight into the action for the Houston Astros’ battle against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on Friday night.
The Rays are the hottest team in baseball, riding a season-high eight-game winning streak, winning 12 of their last 13. The Astros had lost 10 of their last 12, and with the Rays sending out reigning Cy Young Award winning pitcher David Price, few would have predicted the outcome.
The game was slated as a spot-start for the 23 year-old pitcher from League City, TX, the idea being to give him a cameo tryout before sending him back down to the minors. Based on Friday’s game, the Astros’ coaching staff are going to have to think long and hard before they let Cosart linger in Oklahoma for too long.
The Astros burst out of the blocks, recording four hits and two runs in the first inning. With the bases loaded, catcher Carlos Corporan drove the ball into center field to provide him with two huge RBI, giving the Astros a rare lead and a foundation from which Cosart could build a performance.
Cosart spotted his fastball as effectively as any Houston pitcher has done all season. Consistently in the 94-96 mph range, the formidable Rays hitters were dumbfounded by the new kid. The freshman quietly carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but with one out it was broken up by Ben Zobrist with a single shot into right field. It was one of only two hits conceded by Cosart.
The young upstart started the ninth inning with aspirations of a complete game, but after walking the first pitcher a satisfied Bo Porter came to the mound and asked for the ball, bringing in closer Jose Veras. Cosart pitched eight shutout innings, far beyond anyone’s expectations.
Veras let things slip ever so slightly as he allowed one run, but after a grounder to shortstop got him the second out in the bottom of the ninth, he faced the daunting All-Star Evan Longoria. The tension was obvious in the Astros’ dugout, and as Cosart chewed his fingernails down to the bone, Veras blew a strike by the watching Longoria to end the game and seal the win.
Praise for the Astros prospects has been far-ranging this season, and the lights-out shift put in by the young pitcher is perhaps an indication that these fiery youngsters are eager and ready to make the jump-up come September. If the others are anything like Cosart, then Houston has a great future to look forward to.