Gerrit Cole was laboring and this time, the Yankee offense picked him up.
Giancarlo Stanton reached a milestone with a tie breaking, two run home run to give Cole and the Yankees a 5-1 win over the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium last night for their fourth straight win.
The game marked the home debut for Jasson Dominguez but it was Stanton and D.J. LeMahieu, two veterans, who gave Cole a much deserved win.
Stanton snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning when he lined a 1-1 slider from Tigers losing pitcher Jose Cisnero into the left center field bleachers. With the blow, Stanton became the 58th player in MLB history to reach 400 home runs and the 10th in franchise history to reach the mark as a Yankee. “Pretty cool feat. I didn’t have the number in mind when I first started this game, but it’s pretty cool to be here now and keep it going,” Stanton said after the game.
The Yankees were thrilled to see a respected teammate reach a milestone with a significant home run. “It’s a special number, I think it’s to be celebrated,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said.
Dominguez received his first roll call from the Bleacher Creatures when he took his place in center field for the first time. “I wasn’t expecting it, it was kinda like a surprise, the way they were cheering. It felt great,” Dominguez said through an interpreter. The 20-year old, who also had his first at bat as a right handed hitter, was 1 for 4 and is 4 for 17 (.235).
The Yankees’ AL Cy Young Award candidate did not have his best stuff, but the great ones know how to grind through a game and Cole gave a demo on how to accomplish that.
Cole gave up one run on eight hits with seven strikeouts while he lowered his league leading ERA to 2.90. On a very hot and humid evening (87 degrees at first pitch), the soon to be 33-year old threw 104 grueling pitches but it was his final pitch that was most impressive. “I thought it was a grind for him,” Boone said. “Early on they got some two strike hits on some breaking balls where he’s trying to finish and he left them up. Fortunately, he was able to limit damage and they were singles.”
Even without his best stuff, Cole kept the Tigers off the scoreboard for the first five innings but he had to work hard in the sixth. Tigers right fielder Kerry Carpenter led off with a broken bat bloop down the right field line that went for a triple.
Miguel Cabrera, who was honored before the game as he is playing the final games of his brilliant career at Yankee Stadium, lashed an RBI single to right to tie the game at one and was replaced by a pinch runner.
Cole faced Andre Lipcius, who saw seven pitches and fouled out for the first out. Parker Meadows ran up eight pitches on Cole but struck out on a slider.
Cole looked gassed when he faced Baez with two out and one on in the 6th but after a meeting at the mound, he emptied the tank and threw a 99 MPH fastball to strike out him out swinging. What was impressive about the pitch was that was the only fastball that Cole got a swing and miss on all night.
“It was just so thick tonight, the humidity was something else. Unfortunately, started that sixth inning off with a triple and had to go to work from there,” Cole said. “With Baez, a guy who could [hit] the ball on any given pitch. I just thought the situation dictated a fastball up.”
In the Yankee sixth, Aaron Judge (who singled and was on base four times) walked to start the inning. After a pair of force outs, Stanton connected for a 451 foot shot for his milestone home run and a 3-1 lead.
The Yankees padded the lead in the eighth as the fans got a taste of what Dominguez can do.
After Judge walked for a third time to lead off the inning, the young switch hitter lined a a double to right center field to put runners on second and third. Gleyber Torres, who continued his strong second half of the season, was the beneficiary as he cashed in two more runs with a double down the left field line to make it a four run game.
Cole combined with the Yankee bullpen of Tommy Kahnle, Jonathan Loaisiga and Clay Holmes to retire 11 straight Tigers’ hitters before Baez singled with two out in the ninth.
LeMahieu homered off of Tigers’ starter Alex Faedo to lead off the first. The 35-year old has hit 7 home runs in his last 12 games and will man first base for the remainder of the season. Before the game, the Yankees announced Anthony Rizzo, who has been dealing with post concussion syndrome, will not play the rest of the season.
The Yankees have made a late season surge and have won 7 of their last 8 to get back to .500 (69-69). With 24 games left, talk of a late playoff run has been reignited. “We’re not out of it ‘till we’re out of it,” said Stanton who may have or may have not known that he paraphrased a Yogism.
Cole said the Yankees should not be looking at the standings. “We got into this little stretch of playing good baseball not thinking about [the standings],” he said. Just logically I think we need to stay right exactly [with] what we’ve been doing.”
The injection of youth has provided a spark and Cole, being one of the veterans, feels it’s his responsibility to help the young players for their benefit and the benefit of the team.
“We got some young guys that we need to set good examples for and make sure they’re prepared and they get acclimated as quickly as possible because we hope to count on them in the future, so I think that’s our main goal,” said Cole.