The Houston Astros have already gotten two sterling starts in their road series against the Seattle Mariners.
Can a third be far behind?
Gerrit Cole, acquired from Pittsburgh in the offseason, is scheduled to take the mound for Houston Wednesday night at Safeco Field.
Cole is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three starts for the Astros. In 21 innings, he has allowed 10 hits, walked four and struck out 36.
"Dude's been lights out," Astros outfielder George Springer told MLB.com. "He's really kept us in the game every start. He's been everything that we've heard, seen, hoped for, and I'm glad he's on our side."
In Cole's last outing Friday against Texas, he struck out a career-high 14 in seven innings but got a no-decision in a 3-2 victory. He became the first player in major league history to strike out 14 on 93 pitches or fewer.
"I'm just happy we've been winning a lot of ballgames," Cole said. "Unfortunately, I couldn't hold the lead but I'll learn from it."
Cole also joined Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers in the past 110 years to start a season with 11-plus strikeouts in their first three starts of the season.
"That was an incredible performance," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Obviously, it's a shame (Cole) didn't get the win in that game based on how he pitches. What a great job getting into the game, setting the tone, even finishing after (allowing) a couple of solo homers. He did a great job of leading us."
The only blemish were those home runs to the Rangers' Robinson Chirinos and Joey Gallo in his seventh and final inning.
"He was in midseason form," Chirinos told MLB.com. "He was really good with everything: fastball, slider, even his changeup. The first outing when we faced him at home, he wasn't throwing the changeup to right-handers. He was tough, but we almost got a win."
In his only previous appearance against the Mariners in 2016, Cole pitched a three-hitter in a 10-1 victory.
On Monday night, Dallas Keuchel pitched eight innings in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. Tuesday, Lance McCullers Jr. allowed one run on one hit in seven innings, with 11 strikeouts, in a 4-1 victory that snapped the Astros' three-game losing streak.
"Losing in general sucks," Hinch said after Monday's game. "Obviously, we don't want to lose the game. There are going to be stretches where starting pitchers and relief pitchers are going to be putting up zeros and we don't hit, and there are going to be times when we are killing the ball. It's a bump in the road, part of the game."
Cole is scheduled to be opposed Wednesday by Mariners right-hander Mike Leake (2-0, 3.50 ERA). Leake is 6-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 12 career appearances (10 starts) against the Astros.
The starters are former Pac-12 Conference standouts and first-round draft picks (Arizona's State's Leake went No. 8 overall to Cincinnati in 2009 and UCLA's Cole was the No. 1 selection by Pittsburgh in 2011).
Leake pitched six innings against Oakland in his last start, allowing three runs on seven hits, but failed to get a victory for the first time this season in a game the Mariners won late, 7-4.
"That's what Mike does," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He can make pitches. Pitch to the double play, pitch to the strikeout and execute. He's been awesome since we acquired him (last season from St. Louis)."