Cole extends win streak to 19 in Bronx debut

August 4th, 2020

NEW YORK -- spent hours of his childhood staring at the poster taped to the walls of a bedroom some 3,000 miles from The Bronx, a frozen image of Derek Jeter proudly draped in the Yankees’ pinstriped white home uniform. The aspiring right-hander imagined being under the bright lights on that same stage, accepting the assignment of pitching his favorite team to victory.

Eight months after swirling his signature on a record-setting $324 million deal, Cole’s dream finally became reality on Monday evening. Cole extended his career-long winning streak (in decisions for him) to 19 games, firing six strong innings as the Yankees defeated the Phillies, 6-3, for their seventh consecutive win and their eighth in nine games this season.

“To be honest, I imagined getting a win in the home debut, so I guess we got that one done,” Cole said. “The new uniform is great, the mound is top-notch here. We obviously played a crisp ballgame, so it was a good day.”

Cole’s first two starts of the season came on the road against the Nationals and Orioles, and though he generated just one swing-and-miss out of 46 fastballs, Cole had enough gas to keep Philadelphia’s lineup in check. Jay Bruce’s third-inning homer accounted for the damage against Cole, who scattered five hits and walked one in a 91-pitch effort, striking out four.

“I thought the Phillies really hunted the fastball on him and had a pretty good plan,” manager Aaron Boone said. “They were able to put together some decent at-bats, but then you look up and it's 90-ish pitches, just the home run and one run. So just another really strong outing by our ace.”

Dating to May 22 of last season, when he was a member of the Astros, Cole has gone 19-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 25 regular-season starts. That is the sixth-longest streak in Major League history, placing Cole one win shy of equaling feats achieved by Jake Arrieta (2015-16), Roger Clemens (1998-99) and Rube Marquard (1911-12).

The only downside to Cole’s night was that his parents couldn’t attend his home debut in person, though they watched on television from the West Coast.

“They sent us some pictures as they were watching the game,” Cole said. “My folks are a little bummed that they couldn't be here, to be honest. As soon as they can be here, we're going to get them out because they're very excited.”

Coincidentally, Arrieta was on the mound for the Phils on Monday, greeted by DJ LeMahieu’s second leadoff home run of the season. Even as 's career-high five-game home run streak ended, the Yankees have homered in each of their first nine games for the third time in franchise history, equaling their tally from 2001 and one shy of a mark established in 1999.

“I’m excited with the start and the fact that I feel like we're playing good baseball,” Boone said. “Even though it is a shorter season, it's a long ways to go, but I'm happy with where we are.”

Long-distance laughter
answered Bruce’s homer with an opposite-field blast in the bottom of the third, marking the first time in Gardner’s career that he has homered over the left-field wall at Yankee Stadium. The surprising event led Gardner to be razzed not only when he returned to the bench, but also by a former teammate across the country.

When play paused for one hour and nine minutes in the seventh inning due to rain, Gardner discovered a printout of a tweet sent by former big leaguer Phil Hughes, who commented: “Gardy is my boy, but if he's going oppo the league has a baseball problem."

“I don't have social media, so a lot of things go unnoticed by me, but somebody made me aware of Phil tweeting about me hitting oppo homers,” Gardner said. “I texted him and gave him a hard time; he's at the house [in California] watching on TV. He was asking me how it is playing in front of no fans, and a few other things. He's one of my guys going all the way back to 2005 and 2006, so it’s all in good fun.” 

Asked if he knew who put the printout on his chair, Gardner replied, “I've got some ideas. We'll do a little more analysis, maybe get some [finger]prints and confirm it. We've got quite a bit of baseball ahead of us and I've got a few pranks up my sleeve, so we'll have some fun with it.” 

Oh gee, Gio 
continued to swing a hot bat, mashing the Yanks’ third homer of the evening off Deolis Guerra in the sixth. Urshela contributed a pair of deft defensive plays behind Cole early in the game and has reached base safely in each of New York’s nine games thus far.

“I feel so proud of myself right now,” Urshela said. “I know that it's been a long wait. I've been working hard for this moment, and I thank God I'm here with the Yankees living those moments.” 

Though Tuesday’s game has been postponed due to an inclement forecast, with Hurricane Isaias having made landfall Monday night in North Carolina, Urshela wouldn’t have minded playing another game in The Bronx. He batted 7-for-15 with a double, three homers and nine RBIs during the four-game homestand against the Red Sox and Phillies. 

“He’s been such an important player for us,” Boone said. “He's been so steady; a true two-way player now with big at-bats in big spots. I’m just really glad he's on our side.”