'K'ing Cole: Ace sets Yankees' strikeout record

October 5th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- The familiar Louisiana drawl spilled from the Bluetooth speakers in the visiting clubhouse at Globe Life Field late on Tuesday evening, joining the Yankees as they raised plastic glasses of bubbly.

While and were toasted on an unforgettable night of statistical achievements, a surprise guest was on the line. Ron Guidry delivered a congratulatory message to Cole, who set the franchise’s new single-season strikeout record in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers in the nightcap of a split doubleheader.

“I’ve been waiting ever since you put the Yankees uniform on for this moment, because I knew you were going to do it at some point in time,” Guidry said. “You’ve earned it.”

Cole's 257 strikeouts is the new number to know, eclipsing Guidry’s old mark of 248. Cole recorded his record-breaking strikeout in the first inning, fanning Texas first baseman Nathaniel Lowe on a full-count 83 mph curveball.

Guidry’s total had stood since 1978, when "Louisiana Lightning" went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA to claim the American League’s Cy Young Award.

“When you think about the Yankees, often times we’re reminded of the legends that live in Monument Park and the accomplishments they’ve had,” Cole said. “Even just to tie the record, let alone break it, it’s a bit surreal. Obviously, on a night like tonight, it’s just like, ‘Whoa.’ That’s a lot of history going on.”

As he eyes a Game 1 assignment in the American League Division Series against either the Guardians or the Rays, Cole concluded the regular season with a 13-8 record and a 3.50 ERA. In 200 2/3 innings, Cole permitted 154 hits (including a career-high 33 homers), while issuing only 50 walks and holding opponents to a .209 average.

“This is honestly one of my healthiest seasons in the last five or six years,” Cole said. “I’m just in a really great position to take the ball whenever they need me to take the ball. The last few games have been good and [I’m] in a good position to do whatever the team needs me to do the rest of the month.”

Cole also holds the Astros' single-season strikeout record with 326 (set in 2019), making him one of just five pitchers to hold the single-season strikeout record for multiple current franchises. He joins Pedro Martínez (Expos/Nationals and Red Sox), Nolan Ryan (Rangers and Angels), Randy Johnson (Mariners and D-backs) and Rube Waddell (A's and Browns/Orioles).

“It was just a wonderful experience to share it with my teammates and all the people that have also contributed in that locker room,” Cole said.

Guidry instructed Cole to get some rest to be ready for the postseason, advice that Cole accepted, thanking the 72-year-old left-hander and calling him “Sir” to conclude the call.

“My name is not ‘Sir,’” Guidry said. “It’s Gator.”