The Yankees had lost four in a row and were in need of a stopper. Hello Gerrit Cole.
The Yankees’ ace gave up a run in 7 1/3 strong innings as he keyed a 3-1 win over the Seattle Mariners last night at Yankee Stadium.
Cole has been spectacular in the stopper role. In 7 starts following a loss, Cole is 7-0 with 1.87 ERA and the opposition is batting .196 against him in those games.
“With the Mariners being in here, how well they pitch and you know Kirby’s gonna be tough and to have Gerrit go out there, definitely comfort in that and knowing we really wanted to, obviously get a win,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said.
It was an all around, feel good win as Anthony Rizzo snapped out of a (4 for 48, .083) June funk with three hits including two doubles.
Boone had a sense that Rizzo was ready to start hitting again. “I felt like we started to see some signs in Boston, just better at bats,” he said.
Cole was sharp throughout as he allowed four hits, walked one and struck out eight to improve to 8-1 on the season, while lowering his ERA to 2.64.
“They put some balls in play and they hit some balls hard that went our way and they fought us all night,” Cole said. “I think that the best thing that we did was stay in command of the strike zone, move the fastball around and throw a lot of quality pitches
Rizzo’s RBI double in the first scored Gleyber Torres to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Billy McKinney hit a two run home run in the second inning off of Mariners starter and loser George Kirby to make it a 3-0 game. McKinney has been a nice pick up who has produced in his limited time with the Yankees.
Kirby hails from Rye, New York and with family and friends in the stands, the Seattle right hander did not pitch badly but was outpitched by his opponent. Kirby gave up three runs on 8 hits in 7 IP in falling to 6-6.
Cole had two men on in the second, fifth and sixth, but each time he was able to end the inning with a strikeout. The right hander blew through the seventh by striking out the side. Cal Raleigh, former Yankee Mike Ford and Jose Caballero.
Caballero was chirping between pitches and kept stepping out of the box. Cole took exception to the antics and on an 0-2 count, he threw a ball on the screen. On the 3-2 pitch, Cole threw a 98 MPH, four seam fastball to strike out the Mariners second-baseman. As he walked off the mound, Cole wagged his finger a number of times towards the Mariners’ dugout.
“New age, pitch clock age. I didn’t think much of it,” Boone said. “I think we’ve seen it with some guys at the plate. We’ve seen some pitchers try and take advantage of it in certian situations, so it was part of that clock.”
Clay Holmes relieved Cole, who got a standing ovation from the 43,130 fans, with one out in the eighth and recorded a five out save, his ninth, in a game that lasted 2 hours and 9 minutes.
The Yankees needed a strong effort from Cole because the offense continues to have trouble scoring runs. Rizzo’s three hit game was a welcome sight, but the rest of the lineup was 5 for 27.
Harrison Bader returned to the lineup for the first time since May 29th in Seattle. Bader was 1 for 3 with a stolen base and scored on McKinney’s home run.
Boone knows what it means to have Bader back in the lineup. “He’s a good player, he’s really important to our team, yeah, definitely happy to have him back.”
Aaron Judge took some positive steps towards a return but the offense continues to struggle and put pressure on the pitching staff.
Giancarlo Stanton was 0 for 4 and is 5 for 45 in June. His streakiness is maddening.
D.J. LeMahieu was on the bench with his struggles. The Yankees believe they can fix him and get him back to being a productive hitter again. The Yankees continue to insist that Josh Donaldson will come around but how long can they carry a third baseman hitting .143.
At least there is a chance for LeMahieu to be better. Donaldson has publicly hinted at retirement. It looks like his offensive skills have retired. Maybe re-think the infield rotation and commit to LeMahieu as the everyday third baseman.
The Yankees got some more good news as Carlos Rodon made his first rehab start at Double-A Somerset.
The left hander gave up one hit and a run in three innings, while he walked one and struck out five. Boone welcomed that news, although he had not yet seen the official report on the outing when he met the media.
“Assuming all that went well, yeah, definitely, he’s been a great pitcher in this league now the last few years,” Boone said. “Seems like he’s on a good track to get back to us.”