PITTSBURGH -- You could conclude that Gerrit Cole and Brandon Crawford are connected at the UCLA hip bone. After all, both are former Bruins. Furthermore, Brandon's sister, Amy, is dating Cole, and sat behind the Pirates dugout Tuesday night for her boyfriend's Major League debut against the Giants -- and their shortstop, Crawford.
So it might come as a surprise that the two were never teammates in Westwood, Calif. Crawford was a Giants' First-Year Player Draft pick in 2008, a few months before Cole began college.
They do have a baseball connection, however: The very night that Cole cemented his status as the Pirates' imminent national No. 1 Draft pick with a powerful performance against Arizona State in Tempe on May 27, 2011, Crawford made his big league debut -- and upstaged Cole.
The right-hander was in his third inning of work against the Sun Devils that night when Crawford slugged a grand slam in Milwaukee -- and that's what had the UCLA part of the crowd all atwitter the rest of the night, not Cole's triple-digit heat.
Although that wasn't so long ago, it has faded into a distant memory for the two centerpieces of Tuesday night's compelling attraction at PNC Park.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle figured that by the time Cole faced Crawford, batting No. 7 in San Francisco's lineup, his feet will have touched back on the ground.
"I don't think there's any way to keep him from being overamped," said Hurdle, who spent about 15 quiet minutes with the young pitcher before the regular pregame routine kicked in. "There will be emotions, RPMs, and he just needs to go through the process to get to the spot he needs to reach.
"After one or two pitches, he should start settling down. He's a big leaguer now."
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. Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.