Cole becomes third-fastest pitcher to reach 2,000-K mark

May 24th, 2023

NEW YORK -- History was crafted in the second inning on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, though for most of the evening,  could not enjoy it. Sure, the Yankees ace knew he’d registered his 2,000th career strikeout, the third-fastest pitcher in AL/NL history to reach the milestone.

Yet an individual achievement was the furthest thing from Cole’s mind as he handed over the baseball, charged with five runs in five-plus innings and his club trailing. The Bombers’ 6-5 comeback victory over the Orioles, powered by an Aaron Judge homer in the ninth inning and an Anthony Volpe walk-off sac fly in the 10th, permitted Cole to acknowledge it.

“It’s a pretty special accomplishment,” Cole said. “I was pretty depressed about the whole thing, for the most part, until Judgie came through and picked us up. I’m probably leaving the game tonight more thrilled about how we played as a team as opposed to accomplishing that.”

Cole rang up No. 2,000 with his second strikeout of the evening, getting Jorge Mateo swinging in the second inning. He was pitching in his 278th career game; only Randy Johnson (262 games) and Clayton Kershaw (277 games) reached 2,000 strikeouts faster in terms of games pitched.

With 1,714 2/3 innings on his odometer at the time of Mateo’s punchout, Cole earned his place as the third-fastest in AL/NL history to reach 2,000 strikeouts in terms of innings pitched, trailing only Chris Sale (1,626) and Pedro Martinez (1,711 1/3).

Overall, Cole is the 87th pitcher to reach the 2,000-strikeout plateau. He’s the eighth to do so with the Yankees, joining David Cone, Dwight Gooden, Catfish Hunter, Mike Mussina, Bobo Newsom, Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia. 

Other than the milestone strikeout, there wasn’t much for Cole to relish about Tuesday’s performance. Adam Frazier knocked him for a two-run double in the first inning, while Cedric Mullins and Gunnar Henderson lifted solo homers in the third and fourth innings, respectively.

“It was just kind of a grind for him overall,” manager Aaron Boone said.

New York rallied to tie the game with four runs off Baltimore starter Kyle Bradish, but Cole quickly saw the lead shift back, permitting a pair of singles before Terrin Vavra’s RBI groundout facing Ron Marinaccio in the sixth.

“The stuff was pretty good, but the command was not good enough,” Cole said. “I thought we were non-competitively out of the zone too many times, losing count leverage. Overall, they were super disciplined in their approach and put good swings on pitches that they should have.”