Cole Irvin Gets the South Philly Treatment in First Home Start – and No, We Don't Mean Boos

No, he did not get booed. Go somewhere else with that.

Cole Irvin got an accurate taste of Philly Friday night in his first career start at Citizens Bank Park.

No, he did not get booed. Go somewhere else with that.

Rather, in his first career plate appearance in The Show, the southpaw Irvin worked a 10-pitch walk and got the loudest ovation of the week at CBP. 

Dating back to the Brett Myers walk off CC Sabathia in the 2008 NLDS, South Philadelphia has just always shown an appreciation for pitcher at-bats that you don't see or hear elsewhere.

"That was awesome. That was really cool," Irvin said of the crowd getting louder and louder as he worked his walk, which was followed by a two-run homer from Andrew McCutchen.

"A unique experience for sure, first time hitting in a big-league ballpark. Man, I wanted to get a base hit there, but I guess a walk works too. But Cutch coming up with the two-out home run there, on a 3-2 count, I think that really transcends us into the next time we had two outs and we scored some more runs. It was a quality team win, and you can't look past that. It was a lot of fun to be a part of."

McCutchen's two-run homer after Irvin's walk tied the game and was the first of three two-out rallies in consecutive innings for the Phillies. 

Irvin, meanwhile, showed some cojones for the second straight start, working his way out of potential disaster in both the second and third innings when the Phillies' infield defense failed him. The Phillies nearly flubbed four consecutive plays in the second inning of their 5-4 win, with every infielder except Maikel Franco partially to blame. Irvin himself took some blame as well. More on that second inning here

The contact-oriented Irvin weaved his way out of those jams in a way that makes you think he can stick at this level. It's merely a two-game sample, but this is a good Rockies team and at no point did Irvin lose his composure, even when he couldn't record outs on two comebackers that he fielded cleanly.

"Poise is huge here, right?" manager Gabe Kapler said. "We've seen what happens when the game gets a little fast on you. It can spin out of control rapidly. I don't think Cole is going to allow that to happen very often. If he keeps his wits about him, more times than not he's going to be athletic off the mound and play good defense. You can see that in him. Even though he wasn't able to execute on defense today, you can see he has the athletic ability to do so. You can see he will put himself in positions to make plays.

"Cole had every opportunity to unravel there in the second. We talked about what some of his strengths are. I think the first one is poise. He's so aware of what's going on around him. He never has that wide-eyed look. He comes into the dugout fully focused. He knows where he missed the mark in the previous inning. He knows where he has to make improvements."

Of the 18 outs Irvin recorded, 13 came on three pitches or fewer. Who cares that he struck out two batters? Not every pitcher across baseball needs to miss bats to succeed. There are exceptions to every rule. The whole league is obsessed with missing bats. It doesn't mean you have to zig along with everyone else. Zagging works sometimes too.

"You've got to trust your defense. Unfortunately, I was the guy that I didn't trust that much," Irvin said. "Just having Rhys (Hoskins) and a couple guys saying, 'Hey, get another ground ball and just work through it.' Having guys behind me, that's what I needed. That's kind of what I relied on the rest of the start, is knowing that the team was behind me."

Irvin has a refreshing brand of self-awareness. When asked whether the game has slowed down for him yet, he provided an answer more honest than you'd get from many pitchers.

"Depends on the situation," he said with a grin. "Baseball's gonna be baseball. It's going to speed up on you, it's going to slow down on you. You've just got to stay consistent. I think the biggest thing is trust J.T. (Realmuto)."

Many tests await Irvin, but the early results are promising. Maybe the left-handed starting pitcher who helps the Phillies' rotation in 2019 mustn't come from outside the organization.

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