Bronx, TX — Gerrit Cole seemed to found his way after getting shelled in his last start against the Minnesota Twins.
Since June 1, the Bronx Bombers have only lost one game out of 12. They last L was to the Twins in game two of the three-game series.
Cole (6-1) allowed a career-most five home runs against the Twins in his previous outing but bounced back with a mostly stress-free start. The hard throwing right-hander had 7K’s, walked one, and allowed five hits, all meaningless singles.
Cole escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning to preserve a shutout before getting relief from the pen, the Bombers capitalized on shaky defense by the Tampa Bay Rays for a 2-0 victory Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
New York had just five hits but improved to 45-16, the best start across baseball since Seattle in 2001.
Corey Kluber pitched well — and ending taking a tough loss — the game was scoreless, until the bottom of the fourth, after Giancarlo Stanton drew a one-out walk. Gleyber Torres hit a routine fly ball down the right-field line, but Manuel Margot dropped it, allowing Torres to reach and Stanton to get to second.
With one out, Isiah Kiner-Falefa smashed a singled to left, and Randy Arozarena had a shot at Stanton at the dish, but Arozarena’s throw went to the backstop and Stanton scored.
Kluber was slow backing up the play, which allowed a heads-up Torres to race home with the second run, with both runs unearned.
The Rays threatened in the top of the fifth on an Arozarena leadoff single followed by a four-pitch walk to Kevin Kiermaier. After Cole got Isaac Paredes to fly to left, he got ahead of Francisco Mejia 1-2 before a meeting on the mound with Jose Trevino, DJ LeMahieu and Kiner-Falefa. Cole responded by getting Mejia looking on a 100 mph fastball. Taylor Walls grounded out to end the inning.
“The errors happen, it’s part of the game,’’ Arozarena said, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “We’ve just got to come back and hopefully not do that Wednesday.”
The Bombers were without third baseman Josh Donaldson, who served a one-game suspension from Major League Baseball for comments to White Sox star Tim Anderson regarding Jackie Robinson.
Yandy Diaz singled to start the sixth and Harold Ramirez followed with a comebacker. Cole threw wildly to second, but Torres made a great play to keep part of his foot on the base for the force.
Margot followed with single to center to bring up Ji-Man Choi, who has hit Cole pretty well throughout his career, but struck out in two earlier at-bats on Tuesday. Choi reached on an infield single to load the bases for Arozarena.
Cole took a deep breath and got Arozarena to ground into an inning-ending double play to preserve the two-run lead.
Wandy Peralta relieved Cole to start the seventh inning and was immediately rescued by Kiner-Falefa’s defense on a Kiermaier chopper deflected by Peralta. Kiner-Falefa made a spectacular barehanded play to get Kiermaier.
Reliever Michael King got the final out in the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth to extend his hitless streak to five games and Clay Holmes tossed a scoreless ninth for his 10th save.
The victory came despite the fact the Yankees didn’t score an earned run and went just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, as they found yet another way to win a game.
Rays manager Kevin Cash tried to find something positive: “Look, I thought we played well. I mean, we didn’t hit, and two plays that we normally convert into outs, or one for sure, we didn’t, and that was the outcome of the ballgame.”
Gerrit Cole Redeems Himself:
Cole seemed to find his mojo Tuesday night as he rebounded after the worst outing of his career during the game against the Minnesota Twins on June 9 when he gave up seven runs in 2.1 innings and five home runs. During this game against the Rays, Cole prepared and redeemed himself; he punched out seven K’s and pitched six shutout innings.
Bronx Bombers Update:
Yankees: LHP Aroldis Chapman (Achilles tendinitis) threw a bullpen on the field, and he could face live batters his next time on the mound. RHP Jonathan Loaisiga (right shoulder inflammation) has resumed throwing. RHP Domingo Germán (right shoulder impingement syndrome) will throw three innings to batters on Wednesday and then could begin a minor league assignment.
Tampa Bay Rays LHP Shane McClanahan (7-2, 1.87) and NY Yankees LHP Nestor Cortes (5-2, 1.96) face off in a showdown of early season Cy Young Award contenders.