Cole continues commanding start to '23 in Yankees' win

New York's ace strikes out eight, gives up one run in finale

April 5th, 2023

NEW YORK -- Many pitchers pretend to pay little attention to the opposite side of their slab matchup, leaning on the cliché that they are only facing the opposing lineup. With a playful grin that spilled out hours after his final pitch on Wednesday, Gerrit Cole revealed that he hardly subscribes to that theory.

Cole was delighted to go toe-to-toe with fellow ace Aaron Nola, especially because the home team finished on top. Cole continued his sizzling start to the season with an eight-strikeout performance as the Yankees defeated the Phillies, 4-2, at Yankee Stadium.

"It’s exciting, yeah,” Cole said. “Nola’s great, man. He’s great. The Phillies are great; their lineup is a joke, they’re so good. It was going to be a fun scrap for the rubber game, and fortunately, we were able to come out on top. Well-pitched games from both sides.”

After striking out 11 Giants to establish a franchise Opening Day record in his previous outing, Cole authored a successful sequel. The righty scattered three hits over 6 1/3 innings, saying he was in “a good spot to execute pitches” on a chilly, damp afternoon.

“He walks out there with a lot of equipment,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I feel like he’s been in a good spot since Day 1 of Spring Training, and he’s carried it right into the season. He had a little bit of everything going today. I thought his fastball was really good, command-wise. He was sharp, and he’s throwing the ball real well.”

Cole owns a razor-thin 0.73 ERA through his first 12 1/3 frames of the year, with a 13.86 K/9.0 IP ratio. He’s just the third Yankee in the past seven decades to throw at least six innings with three hits or fewer in his first two starts, joining Whitey Ford (1955) and Orlando “El Duque” Hernández (‘99).

“He’s Gerrit Cole. His fastball is electric,” said infielder Bryson Stott, who went 2-for-4 in Philadelphia’s defeat. “He just made better pitches than we took swings.”

Said catcher Jose Trevino: “It’s pretty fun. His preparation before the game and before starts is huge for him. He’s doing a really good job with everything, and if we keep this moving forward, he’s going to be doing well.”

New York built an early lead against Nola behind more productive at-bats from Gleyber Torres, who stroked a run-scoring hit in the first inning and another in the sixth. Torres has reached base in 14 of 25 plate appearances (a .560 on-base percentage), and leads the Majors with five stolen bases.

“I feel really comfortable every at-bat,” Torres said. “I feel like I’ve got really good patience at home plate right now.”

Trevino lifted a two-run homer, his first of the season, facing Gregory Soto in the seventh.

“We’ve played well offensively, defensively,” Trevino said. “Gleyber’s having a good start. Cole is obviously doing really good. Let’s just keep that momentum going.”

One of Cole’s few blips on Wednesday was a pitch timer violation. After striking out Edmundo Sosa for the first out of the seventh inning, Cole gestured toward the Yankees’ bench, asking Boone for one more hitter.

Boone allowed his ace to continue, and Cole worked the count full against Nick Castellanos, who received a walk when Cole and catcher Trevino could not select a pitch before the timer expired. Cole said that the timer “slipped both of our minds.”

“We’ve got to call a mound visit there,” Cole said. “It’s a bit unfortunate. It’s my first one. That was pretty poorly timed, but we’ll learn from it.”

That counted as one of the three free passes issued by Cole, who tossed 103 pitches (68 for strikes). That run came around to score as Jonathan Loáisiga permitted a hit, plunked a batter and served up a Jake Cave sacrifice fly.

The Yankees wrapped their season-opening homestand with four wins in six games, scoring first in five of the contests. They now eye an off-day on Thursday thanks to a rainout in the Orioles’ home opener, which was rescheduled for Friday afternoon in Baltimore.

“We’ve just played some good baseball, some tight games,” Cole said. “So far, I think we’ve played every pitch and we’ve taken care of the details really well. We’re in a good spot.”