But his last three? Not so much, especially not Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the Tigers. With each start, the sinkerballer’s struggles have snowballed as his ERA climbed from 3.34 on July 16 to 5.24 on Wednesday.
“I’ve been missing location with my pitches,” Cook said. “Unfortunately, I think I’m on one of the streaks I’ve never had in my career where I’ve given up multiple home runs in three games in a row now. In those situations, I might need to bear down a little bit harder.”
After yielding just two home runs over his first five starts of the season, Cook has served up four blasts in his last two starts. But the homer that he surrendered to Miguel Cabrera was the most notable mistake.
It was attributed to Cook’s change in approach in that at-bat, which started with pure fastballs. With the count at 2-2, he strayed away from his sinker and hung a curveball that Cabrera clubbed way over the Green Monster.
“The biggest problem was hanging a breaking ball to one of the best hitters in the game,” Cook said. “I tried to do something different, hung a curveball and that’s what he’s supposed to do with that type of pitch. Other than that, I can live with the ground balls getting through and scoring runs here and there.”
Cook lasted 4 2/3 innings and allowed nine hits and six runs, both season highs for the hurler. But Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine believes those are the byproducts of being a sinkerball pitcher.
“We all wish he had a pitch with two strikes that would be a swing and miss pitch,” Valentine said. “Some of those guys, he had the two strikes and they just kept fouling them off so that’s what you live with, a contact pitcher — he works quick, doesn’t walk people.”
Despite Cook’s recent struggles, Valentine isn’t thinking about his role in the starting rotation moving forward just yet. As of now, he said all decisions hinge on Josh Beckett‘s health.