Like an NFL quarterback who takes care of his offensive lineman, Gerrit Cole may want to take care of his bullpen mates because they literally saved his “bacon.”
Wandy Peralta, Michael King and Clay Holmes provided three scoreless innings in relief of Cole as the Yankees held off the Red Sox, 6-5 at Fenway Park last night. “They [the bullpen] were pretty good tonight,” Manager Aaron Boone said after a satisfying win.
The Yankees’ got the win but Cole continued to have problems pitching at Fenway Park, particularly when he faces his nemesis, Rafael (aka Cole Slaw-ter) Devers.
The slugging Boston third baseman accounted for all five of Boston’s runs as he slammed two more home runs off of Cole who has become Devers’ personal batting practice pitcher. Devers has now hit six career home runs and has 15 runs batted in against the Yankee ace right hander in 23 regular season at bats.
“It’s pretty wild, there just hasn’t been a miss yet,” a frustrated Cole said. “Roll over one time, like line out one time. You’re supposed to fail seven out of ten times in this league,” Cole said.
During his time with the Yankees, in five starts at Fenway, Cole has a 7.13 ERA, while 18 of the 20 runs he’s given up have come on home runs.
The Yankees staked Cole to a 5-0 lead in the third inning. Joey Gallo led off the inning with a walk off of Red Sox losing pitcher Josh Winckowski. With one out and Gallo at second, Gleyber Torres lined a single to right to put runners on first and third.
After Matt Carpenter popped out to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Josh Donaldson drove a 1-0 fastball from Winckowski into the center field seats for the Yankees’ third grand slam in two days and a 4-0 lead. Boone said he saw this coming from Donaldson. “Last couple of days, obviously getting some results,” he said. “Getting a hit on the board early the other way and then absolutely sticking one there to center.”
On the very next pitch after the slam, Aaron Hicks homered into the bullpen in right center field for a 5-0 lead.
Devers took back some of the Yanks’ momentum when he hit a two-run home run in the bottom half of the inning to make it a 5-2 game.
The Yanks added what would prove to be the game winning run in the fifth. With two out, Hicks tripled to right field. Jose Trevino hit a pop up in the infield but Red Sox first baseman Franchy Cordero misjudged the ball and it dropped in for an RBI double as Hicks scored the sixth run.
The Red Sox answered again in the bottom half of the fifth. With runners on first and third and two out, Devers drove a 1-0 change up from Cole into the center field bleachers and suddenly it was a one run game with still a lot of baseball to be played.
Cole threw his hands up as if to “say uncle” after Devers’ second home run. “He has the ability to ride the ball out at the bottom of the zone. Has the ability to catch up to my fastball, he’s proven that. Both pitches were pretty well executed,” Cole said.
Cole got through the sixth unscathed. One positive from his sub-par outing was that he didn’t lose the lead and qualified for the win (8-2) thanks to the work of the bullpen.
Peralta entered in relief of Cole and pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning on nine pitches. With Devers scheduled to lead off the eighth, Manager Aaron Boone stuck with his lefthander. Devers grounded out to third to get a very important out. “He (Peralta) was able to have a real efficient inning there,” Boone said. “Because he was going 1-2-3, I know obviously I wanted him to face Devers there. Able to retire him, great job there.”
King took over and threw a nasty slider to strike out J.D. Martinez for the second out. After walking Bogaerts, King got Alex Verdugo on a ground out to first.
Holmes came on and got Trevor Story on a pop out to start the ninth. After he struck out, Cordero, the Yankees’ closer finished the game by throwing out former Yankee Rob Refsnyder on a comebacker to the mound to earn his 16th save.
Yanks have won three of four against Boston and are 27-12 against AL East opponents.
Aaron Judge (lower body soreness) and Anthony Rizzo (lower back soreness) were both out of the lineup. Judge told reporters afterward that he expects to be back for the second game of the series later tonight.
The Yankees have won 60 of their first 83 games, tying the second fewest number of games to reach 60 wins in franchise history. (1928, and 1939) The 1998 team got to 60 wins in 80 games.
Even though the Yankees have a huge lead over the Red Sox (15 GB) and the entire division, (Tampa Bay is 14.5 GB) this is still a big series. “Anytime we can get a win here, anytime we can hold them down less than what we got, regardless of its five to six, one to zero, ten to nine. It’s a good night,” said Cole.