In a much bigger picture, Hal Steinbrenner seduced Gerrit Cole to join the Yankees with a staggering amount of money and the belief he could pitch the Yankees to multiple World Series titles.
That may or not happen during the nine years Cole works for Steinbrenner, who with sister Jennifer, club president Randy Levine and COO Lonn Trost watched Cole smother the Red Sox on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
Nevertheless, Cole’s first taste of what used to be baseball’s greatest rivalry was also why Steinbrenner wanted him in pinstripes.
Since Aaron Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list earlier in the day with a strained right calf, the Yankees’ lineup was without plenty of firepower. Add in Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks all frigid at the same time, and Cole needed to deliver against a solid, if not great, lineup.
Cole accepted the challenge in his fifth start and pitched the Yankees to a 10-3 victory. The win raised Cole’s season record to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.76.
It was Cole’s 20th straight victory and tied him with Jake Arrieta, Roger Clemens and Rube Marquard for third on the all-time list. Carl Hubbell is first with 24 in a row and Roy Face second at 22. Cole hasn’t lost in 27 starts.
Cole allowed a run in a season-high seven innings. He gave up four hits, struck out eight and didn’t issue a walk.
In a sign that Sanchez might be inching out of a severe slump, the catcher launched a two run-run homer into the left-field bleachers that hiked the Yankees’ lead to 5-1 in the fifth. It was Sanchez’s second homer in as many games and third of the season. Torres, who started the game batting .161 (9-for-56), might be shaking the chills since he had four hits including a two-run double in the third inning. Torres was replaced by Tyler Wade in the top of the eighth at shortstop.
Mike Tauchman, who replaced Judge in right field, drove in four runs and designated hitter Clint Frazier broke the game open with a two-run double in the three-run seventh to make it 8-1.
The victory was the 13-6 Yankees’ seventh straight over the Red Sox and 12th in 13 games. They are 18-4 against the Red Sox in The Bronx since 2018.
A prime example of how overpowering Cole was him striking out elite hitter J.D. Martinez three times on ill-looking swings.
Thanks to Jonathan Holder walking two to start the eighth when the Yankees led, 8-1, and giving up two hits, Aaron Boone was forced to summon Adam Ottavino with runners on first and second, one out and Martinez the next hitter. He struck out looking for his fourth whiff of the game. Ottavino put an end to the rally by getting Xander Bogaerts to swing through a slider.
Cole found his first real test in the fifth inning when Christian Vazquez singled to right with one out and the light-hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled into the left-center field gap. With runners at second and third and the Yankees leading, 2-1, Cole fed No. 9 hitter Jonathan Arauz a grounder to third baseman Gio Urshela to end the scoring threat.