HOUSTON — Here is something for Mets fans to digest.
Cy Young-candidate Gerrit Cole has a personal catcher in Martin Maldonado. That could be a good lesson for the Mets in dealing with their own power pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
Amazin’ how that works.
The two Astros worked perfectly together on Saturday night as Cole pitched a gem in beating the Rays 3-1 at Minute Maid Park, striking out 15 as the Astros took a 2-0 lead in the ALDS. A win Monday at the Trop and this series is over and the Astros get the sweep they so desperately want as they look likely to lock horns with the Yankees in the AL Championship Series.
Maldonado even knocked in the second run with a single to center in the seventh, his second hit of the night.
“I thought Maldonado was fantastic,’’ Cole said.
The bottom line is that pitchers can feel more comfortable working with a catcher they prefer. Asked about what he likes about Maldonado, Cole smiled and said, “He has a raspy voice like me.’’
There is more, of course, “Back to the communication, like we’re — and this is not to exclude [the other catchers], I think, obviously, he protects the running game quite well, which is why he’s the manager’s preference. He’s so fun to work with, the communication that we have. We’re very honest with each other.’’
Honesty goes a long way in this game, another lesson the Mets can learn.
Noted Cole of Maldonado, “He’ll come in and tell me that, you know, ‘You’re full of it, that was a stupid pitch.’ And I’ll come in and tell him, ‘You’re full of it, that was a stupid call.’
“To be able to have that conversation and be serious but have, like, some lightheartedness to it and know that it’s not personal, that’s pretty cool,’’ Cole said. “As a pitching staff, we’re pretty blessed to have catchers that pour into us. Those two workhorses behind the dish are pretty special.’’
Cole finished 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and ended the season with a 16-game winning streak.
“My job is to go out there and just, with whatever I got that day, just give my team the best chance to win’’ Cole said.
As for controlling the running game, that was never more evident than in the sixth inning. Willy Adames led off with a single and as Cole struck out Yandy Diaz on a low outside pitch, Maldonado fired a strike to second base to nail Adames for the strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play.
It was a clutch throw and showed why Cole has such confidence in Maldonado, as does Astros manager A.J. Hinch.