Cole allows 2 hits, shuts out O's in Game 1
NEW YORK -- This time, Gerrit Cole said, he was able to finish what he started.
Wearing a cap honoring the NYPD, the Yankees’ ace struck out nine in a dominant two-hit shutout on Friday afternoon, pitching the Yanks to a 6-0 victory over the Orioles in the first game of a seven-inning doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
“We’ve got seven more innings to cover, so I was happy to finish it,” Cole said. “It's just nice to put a bow on it.”
As the Yankees and Orioles opened a weekend series with postseason implications, Cole snapped a personal three-start losing streak in a 114-pitch performance. Cole did not permit a hit until the fifth inning, when Hanser Alberto stroked a two-out single to right field.
Renato Núñez registered the only other hit for Baltimore, a two-out single in the seventh. Cole walked one batter, picking up his second complete game of the season; his first came on Opening Day, a rain-shortened five-inning effort against the Nationals in Washington.
“He was mixing all four pitches really well; basically, any pitch, any count,” catcher Kyle Higashioka said. “When you have a guy like that with that kind of stuff, that can throw any pitch in any situation, it’s always going to be a tough day for opposing hitters.”
Prior to his recent skid, Cole had been frustrated by an inability to pitch deeper into games, particularly an Aug. 19 no-decision vs. the Rays in which he fumed about a seventh-inning exit.
Harnessing his rising fastball and heavily incorporating a biting curve, Cole’s route-going effort saved the bullpen for Game 2, and he improved to 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts at Yankee Stadium.
“Any time your ace is out there, you’d like him to be able to get deep in the game,” manager Aaron Boone said. “In the seven-inning games, to be able to complete, that is huge.”
On the 19th remembrance of the Sept. 11 attacks, members of the Yankees sported caps bearing the emblems of the NYPD and the FDNY for Friday’s games. Cole said that he was “thrilled” the Yankees had a doubleheader, which would allow him to wear the FDNY cap during the nightcap.
“I know this is a very somber day, but hopefully we were able to provide some joy for the people that are having a rough day today in New York,” Cole said.
DJ LeMahieu provided near-instant run support, connecting for his fourth leadoff homer of the season, and sixth overall. Brett Gardner and Kyle Higashioka added two-run homers off right-hander Alex Cobb, who permitted five runs and seven hits over four innings. Mike Tauchman added a run-scoring single in the sixth inning.
“What Gerrit did, that was what the Yankees signed him to do,” Cobb said. “When he’s on, that’s what he is going to produce. You just have to hope he’s off a little bit.”
The outing marked Cole’s 10th Yankees start, and his first in which he did not allow a home run. Cole had permitted six home runs over 16 innings in his previous three starts, coming off a 28-start regular-season unbeaten streak dating to last season with the Astros.
“Coming in as arguably the best pitcher in the game, I've gotten a further look behind the curtain at just how much this guy cares,” Boone said of Cole. “How much he wants to win, how much attention he pays to the details. It was nice to see him go out and absolutely dominate a game from beginning to end.”