Coming off a thrilling sweep of the rival Red Sox, the Yankees entered Monday evening hoping to carry those vibes over into a series opener win against the Phillies. The Bombers did just that, scoring six runs in a drizzly affair. In another rain-interrupted outing started by Gerrit Cole, the Yankees’ bats were out to prove the home run is very much in vogue.
Cole pitched a scoreless first inning for the first time this season, retiring the Phillies’ 1-2-3 batters on ten pitches. The Yankees jumped to an early one run lead in the bottom of the frame on a DJ LeMahieu leadoff home run. After running the count full, LeMahieu sent an elevated Jake Arrieta sinker into the right field seats for his second dinger of the year. The ball exited his bat at 98.2 MPH and traveled 352 feet.
In the top of the second inning, Cole picked up where he left off retiring the side on just nine pitches. He stayed with a four-seamer/slider combo, and while he did not induce many whiffs, he was still able to generate outs. The hard-throwing righty ran into his first patch of trouble in the third with Jay Bruce barreling a 3-2 fastball down broadway for a long home run to right.
The tie game would only last the length of the mid-inning commercial break, as the Yankees retook the lead in the bottom of the third. Brett Gardner made it 2-1 as he led off with a home run. He stayed on a 1-1 changeup that Arrieta yanked into the zone, sending it into the first row in left field for an opposite field (yes you read that right) solo shot. The liner exited at 94.3 MPH, traveled 351 feet, and only registered a .240 xBA. Such are the benefits of calling Yankee Stadium home.
The Yankees were not finished in the inning. Aaron Judge doubled down the left field line on a ground that just snuck under Jean Segura’s glove. Aaron Hicks drove him home with a double into the left-center gap on a sinker that leaked over the plate, making the score 3-1.
Cole again encountered trouble in the top of the fourth as Bryce Harper and Didi Gregorius both singled, but a timely Segura double play ended the threat and the inning. It was clear during his second go through the order that Cole made an adjustment, mixing in a healthy dose of curveballs to supplement the fastball and slider.
The game remained relatively silent until the bottom of the sixth. Phillies reliever Deolis Guerra walked Hicks and hit Giancarlo Stanton to lead off the inning, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Mike Ford was barely out in front of a 3-2 changeup and missed a home run by a few feet. No need to worry, as Gio Urshela launched the second pitch he saw into the visitor’s bullpen to widen the Yankees lead to 6-1. The ball was hit 104.6 MPH and traveled 403 feet to give Urshela his third home run in four games.
After a one hour rain delay ended Cole’s night, the game stumbled to a 6-3 finish with Adam Haseley and Jean Segura driving in consolation runs in the seventh and eighth respectively. On a night when the weather delay killed off the bats, the story of the game was the size of home plate umpire Nic Lentz’s strike zone. He consistently expanded the zone by a ball’s width on Cole’s glove side, and pitchers from both sides took advantage.
So just another ho-hum win for the Yankees as they improve to 8-1. As for Cole, I must admit how impressive it is that, even in this kind of grind-it-out, non-A-game outing, he limited a very dangerous Phillies lineup to five hits and one earned run. Scary to think what he can do once he really hits his stride.