Cole remained undefeated in four starts as a Yankee as he scattered six hits and walked a batter over 4 2/3 innings for his 26th consecutive start without a loss, a streak which dates to last season and is the fifth longest in history.
“I wasn’t able to finish the outing the way we wanted to, but there was some good improvement across the board, so I’ll just try to take that,” Cole said. “Even with pitches where we executed two or three times in a row to start the at-bat, we just never got the popout or the groundout or the fly ball.”
Ji-Man Choi stroked an RBI double and José Martínez slugged a two-run homer off Cole, who showcased a sizzling fastball at speeds up to 98.3 mph and finished one out shy of qualifying for a victory. Cole said that he felt that his location was “crisp” until the final inning.
“I made a little tweak with my delivery, staying over my legs a little better,” Cole said. “I thought that increased a little bit of the deception and allowed me to get through the baseball at the end, really starting to nail my spin axis. At times, it's been a little inconsistent. Today we were really repeating for the most part until a few pitches towards the end.”
Cole outdueled fellow flame-thrower Tyler Glasnow in a rematch of Game 5 of the 2019 American League Division Series. The victory was the Yankees’ first in their last six games at Tropicana Field, dating to last season.
“I thought he was really good,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Cole. “Credit to them, they made him work enough and really drove his count up. They were able to get a guy on base it seemed like every inning, but I thought he was pretty sharp overall for not being able to obviously get through five.”
Ford opened the scoring in the third inning by connecting for his first home run of the year, a two-run shot off Glasnow projected at 437 feet by Statcast. After a pair of walks and a strikeout, Gio Urshela added a two-run double that chased Glasnow, who was touched for four runs and five hits over 2 2/3 innings.
“If you look at the whole year, we've done a really good job on a lot of different fronts offensively,” Ford said. “It's a scary lineup. So whenever I get in there, I’m just trying to contribute and maybe be a little spark plug.”
Stanton extended the Yankees’ lead in the fifth inning with a solo home run off reliever Sean Gilmartin, Stanton’s third long ball of the season. After the Rays pulled within two in the fifth, Judge struck back in the sixth inning with his Major League-leading eighth homer, a two-run blast off Gilmartin.
“It's kind of what you expect from him,” Ford said of Judge. “He's such an intimidating figure when he gets in the box that you think it can happen on any pitch. Just personally, him being a friend, it's great to see him get off to the start that he is. With him being healthy, that's what he can do.”