Can Aaron Cook Become The Second Coming of Derek Lowe?
Friday night in Seattle Aaron Cook conducted a pitching clinic. Gather round group. This is how it’s done and what it could mean to the Red Sox.
It wasn’t a perfect game but it was as close as you’ll come and not bag one. In short, Cook pitched a complete game, 2 hit (meaningless singles in the fourth and eighth innings), 0 walk, 2 K shutout against the Seattle Mariners that was made all the more impressive by his efficiency as by the game’s outcome.
Cook faced just 28 batters, threw 81 pitches (58 for strikes) and never threw more than 15 pitches in any inning. He retired the side in order five times, three innings in a row to start the game. It was Pedro-esque dominance. It was Derek Lowe in the 2004 and 2007 playoffs. It was a nasty, leaden sinker ball that accounted for 14 ground ball outs during the contest.
As with any pitching gem, there are key factors that create the right conditions enabling a masterful performance. Cook pounded the strike zone, got ahead and stayed ahead of hitters and was more mentally tough than any Red Sox pitcher I’ve seen this year. His sinker, which he threw repeatedly once he figured out just how devastating it had become, was nearly unhittable.
Cook was also the beneficiary of some sparkling defensive work that helped keep Seattle runners off the bases. A Will Middlebrooks side-step and snare of a screaming grounder in the early innings and a patented Dustin Pedroia dive up the middle, catch and simultaneous flip with the glove hand to Mike Aviles for a double play to end the eighth inning were plays indicative of just how much things went Cook’s way.
"What does all this mean? In the short-term it was just one beautifully pitched game. In the larger context if this means Cook’s shoulder, which has been the focal point of his ineffectiveness and instability over the past two years, is truly healthy it presents Bobby Valentine with six-man rotation and healthy survival-of-the-fittest competition amongst the pitching staff."
Putting together a stronger starting rotation coupled with the return of some key injured players and continued strong play of minor league role players could mean an appreciably better second half of the season. In the dog fight that is the AL East, Cook could be a key differentiator between playoff berth and lackluster middle of the pack finish.
Now here’s where you do your part. Haul out your Ouija boards and invoke the spirit of Derek Lowe.
I knew all the time but now Im gonna let you know:
Im gonna keep on rocking, no matter if it’s fast or slow.
Aint gonna stop until the twenty-fifth hour,
Cause now Im living on blues power.
– Blues Power, Eric Clapton