Gerrit Cole carried a 20-game regular-season win streak to the mound at Truist Park on Wednesday afternoon, a remarkable achievement that was tied with three others for the third-longest string in Major League history. It proved to be no match for Braves rookie Ian Anderson, who bested the Yankees in a big league debut to remember.
The Bombers’ bats were largely silenced by Atlanta’s top pitching prospect, who handed the Yankees a 5-1 defeat in the first game of a doubleheader. Cole surrendered three home runs as he absorbed his first loss in a decision since May 22, 2019, a span of 28 undefeated starts.
“I just would have liked to have pitched better,” Cole said. “It seemed to be a little bit of feast or famine in terms of good command for a period of time and then some bad command and bad spots. They stayed one step ahead of me too many times.”
Anderson held the Yankees hitless until Luke Voit’s solo homer in the sixth inning. Prior to that point, they managed only four baserunners against Anderson, their bats appearing sluggish after five days off following three COVID-19 postponements against the Mets last weekend, then a rainout on Tuesday at Atlanta.
“We knew he had good stuff coming in; we knew he’s obviously a highly touted pitcher for these guys,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Anderson. “I thought he did a good job of attacking the strike zone and being a little bit unpredictable. He had the advantage of us not seeing him much at all.”
One start after being incensed by Boone’s call to the bullpen ended a solid outing, Cole struck out nine but was hurt by the long ball, surrendering five runs and five hits over five-plus innings.
“There were some good swings put up against him,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “You don’t have to over-swing off him because he’ll do a lot of work for you if you square it up good. We had a lot of good at-bats against a really, really good pitcher."
Ronald Acuña Jr. mashed a 473-foot blast to lead off the game, the longest by a Brave at Truist Park (which opened in 2017) and also the longest hit off Cole since Statcast began tracking data in ‘15.
Dansby Swanson went opposite-field for a two-run shot in the third inning and Marcell Ozuna followed later in the inning with a solo shot, estimated at 469 feet. Cole has permitted 10 home runs across seven starts, with 13 of the 16 runs that he has allowed being scored via homer.
“I feel like I’ve had a few home run balls where I try to let it roll off your shoulders, and you understand that it’s going to happen,” Cole said. “The three today, especially the two-run home run from Swanson, was impactful on the game. I would certainly like that pitch back.”
Prior to Wednesday, Cole’s only loss in 15 months came in Game 1 of the World Series against the Nationals. Cole went 20-0 with a 1.97 ERA in 28 starts over his win streak, tied with Jake Arrieta (2015-16), Roger Clemens (1998-99) and Rube Marquard (1911-12) for the third-longest ever.
Carl Hubbell (24 games, 1936-37) and Roy Face (22 games, 1958-59) are the only pitchers ever to enjoy longer winning streaks. Cole’s streak of 28 starts without suffering a loss was also snapped, falling two shy of Clemens’ record of 30.
“I definitely went out there with the mentality of trying to set the tone for the day,” Cole said. “I was in a good spot to make some pitches and unfortunately it didn’t go our way. I’m glad we have Masa[hiro Tanaka] on the mound right now, because we’re going to need a big outing from him. I definitely would have liked to step up today, but I just didn’t do it.”