Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Cole Cruises To Another Win, As Yankees Lineup Gets Boost From Bader’s Return

Gerrit Cole firing one in against Jerred Kelenic in the second inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees got another superb outing from their ace, Gerrit Cole on Tuesday night, as he pitched into the eighth inning of their 3-1 win over the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium.

This was the Yankees' 40th win of the season, as they improved to 40-33, and as important, ended their losing streak at four games, which was tied for their longest of the season (April 28-May 1).

Cole was just who they needed to be on the mound in this situation, as they have now won all seven games he has started after a Yankees loss. He has a 4-0 record, with a 1.87 ERA (earned run average), in those outings.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of the comfort of having Cole on the mound as they returned home after a sweep in Boston, "Definitely nice to hand the ball to him, and knowing with the Mariners being in here with how well they pitch, and you know (George) Kirby's going to be tough," referring to Seattle's starting pitcher on Tuesday night. "To have Gerrit go out there, definitely comfort in that and knowing, you know, we really wanted obviously to get a win, stop the bleeding a little bit, and he went out there and was in complete control."

The Yankees' ace went 7 1/3 innings, and allowed just one run on four hits and a walk, with eight strikeouts. It was his second-longest start of the season, after his complete game shutout against Minnesota on April 16.

Cole is now 8-1 with a 2.64 ERA (99.0 innings pitched, 29 earned runs) and 106 strikeouts in 16 starts this season. He has allowed two runs-or-fewer in 13 of them, tied for most in the American League with Tampa Bay's Shane McClanahan and narrowly behind the Chicago Cubs' Marcus Stroman (14) for most in the Majors.

Boone said of what made Cole so good in this one, "Again, really good fastball again, which has been kind of a hallmark for him these last few where he's been really strong, and then the cutter and the slider off of that I thought were really good. Just commanded the baseball how he wanted it to, really avoided trouble pretty much the whole night, and was just in a good rhythm and command, but I thought it was fastball, cutter, slider that were really strong for him."

Gerrit Cole leaving the mound after he was pulled in the eighth inning to a thunderous ovation. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees' lineup got a boost as center fielder Harrison Bader was activated off the injured list. He had been out the past few weeks since he suffered a right hamstring strain on May 29, ironically, when the Yankees played the Mariners in Seattle 

Boone, in his pregame press conference on Tuesday afternoon, said of having Bader back, “Well, just exciting to get him back, what he means to us in the center of the diamond. You know, his ability in center kind of has a trickle-down effect in terms of moving guys, you know, whether it’s off to a corner or whatever, and then the threat he’s proven to be in the box, you know, from a power standpoint, from a speed standpoint, then just, you know, he’s a very dynamic, athletic player, but a real anchor for us defensively and exciting to get him back.”

Bader joins a Yankee lineup that has struggled lately, basically since Aaron Judge has been out of action since June 4,  and they lost eight out of twelve games entering Tuesday night.

Boone, in his pregame remarks, said of what gives him confidence in the lineup coming out of it, “In some cases, track record, where I know guys we’ve got - especially in the middle of that lineup - are going to hit and get it going, but also other guys that have, you know, that have come up and have performed and played a good role for us and are giving things, you know, we needed, maybe even unexpectedly, if you go back to the start of the year. Again, I know I’ve been saying it over and over the last few days, with the lineups we’re running out there - very capable, and we’ve just got to get a few guys going. Again, that’s going to be the key, and I believe they will.”

Boone's comments on both Bader and the lineup as a whole were prescient, as they got off to a good start against Mariners starter George Kirby, who entered this one with a 3.24 ERA and a 6-5 record.

Gleyber Torres got the Yankees offense started, as he blooped one over the head of Mariners second baseman Jose Caballero for a one-out single in the first inning. 

Then, after Giancarlo Stanton struck out, Anthony Rizzo blasted one to right field that Teoscar Hernandez lined up on the warning track, but it ricocheted off the side of his glove and skipped toward center field.

This allowed Torres tons of time to race all the way around from first base to put the Yankees up 1-0, and Rizzo ended up at second base with what was ruled a double.

In the second, Bader returned in style, as he singled and stole second, and then Billy McKinney blasted one to right field for a two-run home run and the Yankees found themselves up 3-0. 

McKinney got the start in left field for this one, and it was his second homer of the season, and he now has 4 RBI as well.

Billy McKinney (left center) celebrating his home run with Harrison Bader. Photo by Jason Schott. 

That blast came after Cole worked out of a two-runners on base with one out jam in the top of the second, which he got out of by having Cal Raleigh fly out to left field and striking out ex-Yankee Mike Ford.

That began a stretch in which Cole retired nine in a row until, with one out in the fifth, Raleigh bounced one to Gleyber Torres that bounced off his glove. and into right field, that somehow was ruled a hit.

Then, after Ford flew out to right field for the second out, Caballero got a broken-bat single to the right side before Cole struck out Dylan Moore to end the frame. Moore entered in the third inning after starting shortstop J.P. Crawford exited the game with a shoulder injury.

Eugenio Suarez flying out to center field to open the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mariners got on the board in the sixth when Jared Kelenic, the ex-Mets prospect who was involved in the Edwin Diaz trade, hit an RBI double.

Cole then struck out Eugenio Suarez to end the sixth, followed that up by striking out the side in the seventh, and struck out Moore to open the eighth to end his night. That was a stretch of five straight strikeouts, and the irony is Cole only had three K's before that run.

The Yankees turned to Clay Holmes, and he got the final two outs in the eighth before retiring the Mariners in order in the ninth. The five-up, five-down performance, with two strikeouts, gave Holmes his ninth save of the season.

Kirby threw seven innings for the Mariners, in which he allowed three runs on eight hits and no walks, with four strikeouts, as he fell to 6-6 and his ERA ticked up slightly to 3.29.


June 20, 1983: Bobby Murcer retires. He played the majority of his 17-year Major League career with the Yankees, and he ended his career with 1,862 hits, 252 home runs, 972 runs, and 1,403 RBI in 1,908 games.

June 20, 1963: The Mets defeated the Yankees, 6-2, at Yankee Stadium in the first-ever Mayor's Trophy game.

June 20, 1934: The Yankees swept Cleveland, 3-2 and 3-0, at Yankee Stadium, as Lou Gehrig won Game 1 with a ninth inning walk-off home run after a Frank Crosettu solo homer tied it in the eighth. Red Ruffing threw a one-hitter in the second game.

Tomorrow's day in Yankee history - June 21, 1984: The Yankees held "Elston Howard Day," as they honored the former Yankee catcher with a Monument Park plaque.

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