Class A Burlington right-hander A.J. Cole enjoys a good old-fashioned pitchers' duel.
"It's always nice to have that competition [between] two pitchers going on out there," Cole said. "It's who is going to give in first, who is going to give up a hit or a run first. Either that or your lineup scores a bunch of runs."
The A's No. 4 prospect struck out seven over five innings -- nearly matching West Michigan right-hander Marcelo Carreno -- in the Bees' 1-0 win in 13 innings over the Whitecaps.
Cole yielded a double, two singles and a pair of walks. He threw 78 pitches and credited the command of his fastball, changeup and slurve.
The 20-year-old right-hander, one of four Nationals prospects sent to the A's for Major League starter Gio Gonzalez last December, has allowed one earned run or fewer in 10 of his 12 Bees outings. Despite his success, he hasn't pitched beyond the sixth inning.
"I guess that's what they got going for me," he said of the A's brass limiting his innings.
Cole went 0-7 with a 7.82 ERA at Class A Advanced Stockton, and after being sent down, is 4-2 with a 2.11 ERA at Burlington. He said the key ingredient to his comeback, which included his sterling June 30 start, involved fixing "a little glitch" in his mechanics: His hands were stopping at the start of his motion, eliminating some of his momentum toward home plate.
"I basically just found my edge back, found it back," he said. "I feel like I am taking off again."
Carreno also didn't figure into the decision. He struck out six and gave up just one hit -- Wade Kirkland's two-out double in the fourth -- over six scoreless frames.
The Bees broke through for the game's lone run in the top of the 13th: In-game insertion Eliezer Mesa led off the double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Nick Rickles' sacrifice fly into center.
The Whitecaps meanwhile went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, stranding 14 batters.