The Yankees came prepared. This stretch of the season is expected to be a test for the Bombers, a chance to see how they measure up against the teams they are projected to be battling at the end of the year for playoff position, and in the playoffs. With six scoreless, bounce-back innings from Gerrit Cole, the Yankees showed they are ready for the test with a 2-0 win over the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s gonna be a lot of tough baseball. But we’re up for the challenge,” Cole said. “Believe me, we’re fighting to have a huge offensive game against these guys, but at the same time we can feel confident in tight games. too.
“Especially now,” Cole said. “So whatever it takes.”
The Yankees (45-16) have won five straight and 12 of their last 13 games. They increased their lead in the American League East to nine games over the Blue Jays and 10 over the Rays (35-26). The Yankees have dominated early. They lead the majors in home runs with 98 (though improved to 9-9 in games in which they do not hit a home run Tuesday night) and have the big-league home run leader in Aaron Judge with 24. Their pitchers have dominated, allowing just 180 runs, the fewest by any team’s staff in the majors.
The Yankees have the best record in baseball, but through the first 60 games only played 22 games against teams with a winning record.
That obviously stopped Tuesday night with their American League East rival Rays in town. It began a stretch of 13 straight games against teams with winning records. After the Rays, the Blue Jays and Astros follow.
“Just come in every day and handle our business and do our job to win the game,” Jose Trevino said. “We got to move forward but, I mean, we’re not thinking about that, we think one day at a time.”
Cole held the Rays scoreless, scattering five hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out seven. He threw 92 pitches and got 11 swings-and-misses, six on his fastball and four on his slider.
It was a bounce-back start from his last, a clunker against the Twins, but it wasn’t an easy night.
Cole was bailed out by his defense in the sixth inning. After Cole made a terrible throw to second, a video replay overturned the error, showing Gleyber Torres kept the bottom of one cleat on second base for the first out. After his Rays nemesis Ji-Man Choi singled on a ball up the middle, Cole used a slider away to get the double-play ground ball from Randy Arozarena to end the inning.
Cole and Trevino gave credit to Yankees’ replay man, Brett Weber, who was confident that the call on the field would be overturned.
At first, however, Cole thought they were in trouble.
“Oh no, none of us did,” Cole said when asked if he thought the play would be overturned. “But you know Webby’s pretty conservative. So hey, we got a chance and then they put it on the (Stadium) board and we were like. . . he did stay on the bag. So yeah, I mean, Brett did a great job with that call.”
Cole was fired up after the play, pumping his fist twice and screaming to his teammates as he ran off the field.
In Tampa, when a call went against him, Cole walked the next batter on four pitches and the Rays scored on him as they went on to beat the Yankees 3-1. This time, after his own throwing error, Cole flailed his arms up and swore. Aaron Boone went out to the mound to try and settle his ace down.
Cole had a better beginning than his last start — when he gave up back-to-back-to-back home runs to the Twins in the first. After a one-out single to Harold Ramirez, Cole retired 11 straight Rays. He gave up a lead-off walk to Arozarena in the fifth and then walked Kevin Kiermaier on four straight pitches.
“That’s a pretty big one to be honest,” Cole said of the differences between his last start and Tuesday night. “We were just on the corners a lot, unpredictable a lot. But throwing four just pitches well executed, well located.”
The Yankees took advantage of the Rays’ sloppy play in the fourth to score their runs. Corey Kluber walked Stanton with one out and Torres’ high pop clanged off of Manuel Margot’s glove to put two on. After Matt Carpenter struck out, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa lined a bloop single to left-center field, scoring Stanton. Torres scored when Arozarena’s throw from left field sailed over catcher Francisco Mejia’s head.
Source: Berkshire mont