Gerrit Cole dominates Rays as Yankees keep rolling

Don’t look now, but that slow start by the Yankees is nearly a thing of the past.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Don’t look now, but that slow start by the Yankees is nearly a thing of the past.

The Yankees won their fourth straight game with a 1-0 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, with a chance to finish off a rare sweep Thursday.

Gerrit Cole was masterful, earning his first career regular-season win over the Rays.

The Yankees’ ace struck out 12 in eight shutout innings, making the lone Yankees’ run hold up, and Aroldis Chapman earned the save with a scoreless ninth.

Aaron Hicks drove in the run in the top of the seventh with a sacrifice fly.

Aaron Judge led off the inning with a single, and Gio Urshela followed with a booming double off the wall in right-center. Judge was motoring toward third when bench coach Carlos Mendoza — filling in as third base coach while Phil Nevin battles COVID — stopped him there.

Against a drawn-in infield, Luke Voit hit a hard grounder to third for the first out. Ryan Thompson was replaced by Jeffrey Springs, and Hicks came through with a fly ball to center on an 0-2 slider for the game’s only run.

On the other side, Cole was dominant, pitching past the seventh inning for the first time this season.

Gerrit Cole shuts down the Rays in a big win for the Yankees on Wednesday.

He gave up four hits and hasn’t allowed a walk since his third start of the year. Cole has walked just three batters all season, and that control continued Wednesday night.

Cole pitched around some bad luck in the bottom of the first. Austin Meadows hit a fly ball to right with one out that hit the B-ring catwalk, which is in play. It landed in short right for a double, but Cole got the next two batters to strand Meadows.

He allowed just a pair of singles after that before postseason standout Randy Arozarena drilled a one-out double off the left-field wall in the sixth. Arozarena moved to third on a groundout by Meadows. Cole then got Manuel Margot swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat.

Cole retired the final eight batters he faced and struck out the side in the eighth before being pulled after 106 pitches — five short of his season-high.

Facing the top of the Rays’ lineup, Chapman got Arozarena and fanned Mike Brosseau — who Chapman nearly hit in the head last September and who took him deep in Game 5 of the ALDS to end the Yankees’ season — before getting Margot to end it.

The Yankees’ offense — without Gleyber Torres, who was held out of the lineup out of an “abundance of caution” as the Yankees awaited further test results while they deal with a COVID outbreak among their coaching and support staff — didn’t do much.

After right-hander Collin McHugh retired all six batters he faced as Tampa Bay’s opener, lefty Ryan Yarbrough entered and didn’t allow a base runner until Judge singled through the right side of the infield left vacated by the shift with two outs in the fourth.

The Yankees also lost Clint Frazier during the game. Giancarlo Stanton disagreed with a low third strike call by home plate umpire Bill Miller in the fourth, and Frazier was tossed after arguing a borderline third strike in the fifth. It was the first ejection of Frazier’s career. He was replaced by Brett Gardner.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Dan Martin

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