Gerrit Cole, Brian Cashman’s “White Whale,” is now officially the ace of the Yankee’s staff. And more than the $324 million – it’s “that look” that says so.
Gerrit Cole gave the Yankees precisely what they signed up for when they signed him away from the cheating Astros – a “W” in the win column.
It wasn’t vintage Gerrit Cole, but it was more than enough to claim a victory over the Washington Nationals and Max Scherzer in a rain-shortened contest at Nationals Park.
Staff aces find ways to win. And while Scherzer was throwing slider after slider that missed the bats of Yankees hitters 14 times, and setting a major league record by tallying ten or more strikeouts 94 times, his name gets listed in the box score with an “L” as in loss.
By contrast, Gerrit Cole was less impressive, picking up only five strikeouts compared to Scherzer’s eleven.
As we know, though, wins are earned by holding the opposition to fewer runs than your team can score that night, and that made all the difference Thursday night.
One hit, a solo blast by Adam Eaton, one base on balls, only eighteen batters faced over five innings, together with an economy-minded 75 pitches (Scherzer needed 99) – and voila – the deed was done.
Gerrit Cole And “That Look”
There’s something else about Gerrit Cole, though, that goes beyond the numbers we see in last night’s box score.
Gerrit Cole has a presence on the mound that reminds of another Yankees ace, Andy Pettitte.
Yankees fans can easily recall the closeup view of Pettitte as he peered in to receive a sign from Jorge Posada. Cap pulled down, that ominous black glove drawn up to cover all but his menacing eyes –
Andy Pettitte was in total control of the game, and more significantly, himself when he delivered a pitch.
Cole doesn’t have any of those same distinguishing images, but his body language inevitably projects the same manner of control.
We saw this last night when Cole took to the mound to face the National’s lead-off batter with a 2-0 lead, courtesy of a two-run home run by Giancarlo Stanton in the top of the first inning.
Again, staff aces do not surrender leads; they protect them. And so it was that when Eaton’s home run cut the Yankee lead to one, you could almost hear Gerrit Cole talking to himself.
“Okay, you got me. But that’s it; I’m slamming the door shut”. And that he did.
After the game, YES Network’s Jack Curry offered more insight into the Gerrit Cole we saw last night, as well as what’s coming in his next eleven starts (video).
Cole’s Bottom Of The Fifth Tells Us Even More
It was only a matter of time before the skies opened over Washington, D.C., and as Gerrit Cole took the mound to pitch what the bottom of the fifth inning that would make the game official, you had to know he was well aware of the radar reports on the weather coming in.
Responding to the challenge, Cole went on to strike out Victor Robles to end the fifth inning as the skies darkened.
The game was delayed at 8:53 with the Yankees threatening to do more damage against Scherzer in the top of the sixth.
With one out, thunder rolled as Gio Urshela singled, putting runners on first and third, and the rain quickly developed into a monsoon..
Say good night.
Other Yankees Highlights
- Aaron Judge crushed two balls to left field, both for hits.
- The smile on Giancarlo Stanton’s face as he crossed home plate after a two-run 459 ft. blast to left-center.
- Tyler Wade‘s dash from first base to score on Judges’ smash to left field shows why Aaron Boone‘s confidence level in this guy is high.