CHICAGO -- Gerrit Cole joked that he “threw a no-hitter in the bullpen” at Guaranteed Rate Field this weekend, the final hurdle that the ace right-hander needed to clear before getting a green light to return to the Yankees’ rotation.
Following a stint on the COVID-19 injured list, Cole will start Monday’s makeup game against the Angels at Yankee Stadium, manager Aaron Boone announced on Sunday. Cole has not pitched since July 29 at Tampa Bay.
“I’m feeling good, ready to go,” Cole said. “I’m very much looking forward to it. I don’t think we’ll push the limits by any means because the recovery will be important, but I’m ready to pitch.”
Cole said that he experienced mild symptoms but lost some weight during his layoff. He kept his arm going first by playing catch with his wife, Amy, then with left-hander Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery is set to return from the COVID-19 injured list on Tuesday, when he’ll pitch one of the games in a doubleheader against the Red Sox.
“I think we’ve done a really great job,” Cole said. “We’re playing good baseball, but we still feel like we can play just a little bit better. Now we’re just looking for the final piece to push it over the edge and really get white-hot here.”
Cole said that he is unsure how he picked up the virus, which affected several Yankees in recent weeks. In addition to Cole and Montgomery, catcher Gary Sánchez, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and right-hander Clay Holmes remain on the COVID-19 injured list.
“It’s not like we’re going to grimy bars and grinding until 4 a.m.,” Cole said. “There is some awareness there. I think we just maybe keep our fingers crossed and get a few booster shots for some of the immuno-compromised people. Hopefully we’ve overcome the most of it going into the playoffs.”
Gardy’s got it
Brett Gardner’s defensive contributions were a big part of Saturday’s 7-5, 10-inning Yankees victory. The veteran ran down Eloy Jimenez’s third-inning sacrifice fly against the center-field wall, saving a run, and made a similar catch in the sixth to retire Zack Collins as Jonathan Loaisiga pinned the bases loaded.
“Those were a couple of big plays,” Boone said. “I've really liked the way he's been swinging the bat the last week or so. I feel like he's really gained some traction and is stringing together his most consistent at-bats over a long stretch. I like where he's at swinging the bat, but certainly the defense he provides.”
Gardner entered Sunday’s series finale batting .314 (11-for-35) with a triple, homer and five RBIs in 11 August games, riding a seven-game hitting streak.
The Yankees entered play on Sunday with 64 games determined by two runs or fewer, the second most in the Majors (Mets, 65). Their 41-23 record in those games leads the Majors.
This date in Yankees history
Aug. 15, 1955: Mickey Mantle homered from both sides of the plate for the second time in his career, helping to power a 12-6 Yankees victory over the Orioles at Memorial Stadium.