Cosart excited for Minute Maid Park debut
Getting a chance to finally make his Major League debut against Tampa Bay 10 days ago was certainly a big moment in the life of Astros right-hander Jarred Cosart, but Tuesday’s game at Minute Maid Park against the A’s figures to be right up there, too.
Cosart, who grew up in the Houston area and cheered for the Astros, will make his first home start Tuesday when he faces Oakland in front of what should be a sizable cheering section for him. Cosart said he’s leaving 75 tickets for family, but plenty of friends are buying their own. The A’s are 10-0 against the Astros this year.
“It’s been a crazy week, and to top it off making my first home start, it’s going to be something I’ll never forget,” he said. “I’ll have to put the nerves aside and try to do too much. Just go out there and try to pitch like I know I’m capable of.”
In his Major League debut on July 12, Cosart threw eight scoreless innings and held the Rays to two hits in a 2-1 win over David Price, the reigning Cy Young Award winner. It was arguably the greatest debut by an Astros starting pitcher.
“I kind of set myself up with the debut in Tampa, but the biggest thing is to go out there and give my team a chance to win and try and get a quality start and keep us in the game,” Cosart said. “I know there will probably be more nerves at home than there was on the road. I’ve grown up here my whole life and I’ll have tons of people in the stands.”
He added: “I couldn’t have asked for any better way to come out of the gate. They were one of the hottest teams in baseball. … To go out there and have an outing like I did, it was a very special time. Like I said before, that’s in the past and now I have to focus on the A’s, who are on fire. I know the Astros haven’t beaten them this year and that will be another challenge.”
When asked what he learned about pitching in the Major Leagues in his first start in Tampa, Cosart said getting ahead with a first-pitch strike is key.
“I got behind to a couple of hitters and they hit the ball a lot harder when they were behind in the count,” he said. “It starts with fastball command, whether you throw 95 or 88. If you can command the fastball, you’ll have a lot better day. I have to throw a lot better offspeed pitches for strikes. In the Minor Leagues, you can get by with the fastball and I don’t think that’s possible in the big leagues. They’ll start timing it up, whether it’s 88 or 100. I think the biggest thing is being able to mix up pitches, change eye levels. It starts, especially for me, with fastball command.”
Cosart has eyed this moment from the time the Astros acquired him and three other prospects from the Phillies in exchange for Hunter Pence two years ago.
“It’s been a grind for me,” Cosart said. “I’ve had injuries earlier in my career that I couldn’t control. I’ve been blessed I haven’t had any major surgeries, but getting there is a feat in itself. I want to say [in the big leagues] and I don’t want to be another guy. I don’t want to go up and down and I know in order to do that, I’m going to have to pitch.
“I want to go up there and do what I did the first start, attacking the zone, change speeds and get my team back in the dugout as quickly as possible. I want to establish myself as hopefully a No. 1 starter. I want to be somebody when they put the ball in our hands every fifth day, you have a shot to not only win the game, but to dominate the game. That’s what I want to do throughout my career and hopefully I finish the year strong and establish myself for next year in Spring Training.”