As soon as the ball left his hand, Jarred Cosart knew he was in trouble.
“Oh yeah, sometimes when it happens, when you give up home runs, it looks like it’s going in super slo-mo,” Cosart said after his start on Tuesday. “I just lost the grip, lost the feel for it and it popped right out. It was right over the plate and I knew (Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth) put a good swing on it and I didn’t have to turn around and look at it.”
That hanging curveball to Werth gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. For Cosart, who had developed a pattern of a good start followed by a bad one over the first five starts of the season, it looked like that sequence might continue after pitching 6 2/3 strong innings against Seattle last week.
“When they score in the first inning, it’s tough,” Cosart said. “That’s supposed to be your easy inning coming out of the bullpen. Everything’s supposed to be in sync and that’s not always the case.”
The Astros right-hander gave up another run in the third inning, too, when he hit Kevin Frandsen and then gave up a double to Jose Lobaton, to fall behind Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals 2-0.
But when the Astros rallied for three runs in their half of the third inning, Cosart rallied with them. He threw three scoreless innings after the offense staked him to the lead, leaving after six innings and 105 total pitches with the Astros ahead 3-2.
“When we put up the three spot it gave me a lot of confidence to come back out there earlier in the game and work with the lead.” Cosart said.
Working with the lead, Cosart wasn’t perfect, but he was effective. He allowed at least one baserunner in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings but was able to keep the Nationals off the board by making the pitches he needed when he needed them.
“He did a tremendous job of settling in,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “He really commanded all three of his pitches tonight. Which, to back up the start which he had his last outing, to come out and pitch the way he did tonight, it’s very encouraging.”