Cut on Cole's finger doesn't affect pitching

Cut on Cole's finger doesn't affect pitching

ATLANTA -- There were no tears for Gerrit Cole on Tuesday, only blood and sweat.

The young right-hander pitched the Bucs into the postseason with a seven-inning effort in the 3-2 clinching victory over the Braves. Cole turned it on, retiring the last 17 men he faced, in pants blood-stained from a cut on his finger.

But this was no Curt Schilling-sized act of heroism. The cut apparently routinely shows up on top of the finger -- not the side that holds the ball -- from the force he exerts in going for the best changeup grip.

"It's not from pitching, but from the way he digs in and grabs. It's on the outside, not near the fingertip," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Some days it becomes more visible than others, and the blood can end up on his uniform and make it look like there's somewhat of an issue. But it had nothing to do with his pitching."

Worth noting
• The Bucs are tentatively set to stay in their regular rotation for the season-ending series in Cincinnati -- Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, Cole -- but, of course, that's subject to their postseason status. Once that has been determined, the pieces will get pushed around and the prep work for the playoffs will begin.

Neil Walker got the day off Wednesday after Tuesday's 0-for-4 made him 1-for-23 in his last six games.

"The at-bats have piled up on him. I just want to get him away from the fire a bit, give him a breather," Hurdle said.

• With Mark Melancon out of play after having pitched five of the previous seven games, Tony Watson found himself working the huge ninth on Tuesday.

In only his fourth career save, Watson was on the mound for the out that sent the Pirates to the postseason.

"I kept the ball, you bet," Watson said. "You never know if you'll ever again have the chance to get the out that clinches your team's playoff spot."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.