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Gerrit Cole dominates, offense stagnates as Yankees fall to Orioles, 6-1

Cole’s brilliant performance could only carry the offense so far

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

For a game that started off with such excitement, this was one of the more excruciating experiences this season.

Let’s start with the good: Gerrit Cole. I’m not gonna lie, by the second inning, I was starting to have visions of a perfecto and/or 20-strikeout game. His stuff was that good. This was the first truly dominant outing by the Yankees ace, the kind of performance we saw last year that earned him every cent of the $324 million contract.

He really put on a pitching clinic tonight. Four-seamer? Nasty. Slider? Filthy. Knuckle-curve? Outright disgusting. We saw the first 100 mph fastball of the season from Cole. He was throwing back-foot sliders to lefties that literally almost hit their back feet. The knuckle-curve dropped right off the table and down into the basement. He struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced. He got at least six whiffs on each of his three main pitches. Unfortunately it was all for naught, as his command, and the Yankees defense, came unravelled in the sixth.

Speaking of that disastrous sixth inning, let’s relive it together. DJ Stewart led off the inning with a home run, his first hit of the year. You may remember him as the guy who tried to catch a ball with his face. I prefer to think of him by that version and not the one that plagued the Yankees tonight. Cole got the next batter to ground out, but an inconceivable throwing error by Thairo Estrada on a routine play opened the lid to Pandora’s Box.

After striking out Chance Sisco, Cole walked the next two batters to load the bases. Ryan Mountcastle singled up the middle to make it 3-0. This is where things got weird. Rio Ruiz pulled a grounder down the right field line that the Orioles ballboy touched, resulting in probably the first and last fan interference in an empty stadium in history. By the time the dust settled, the Orioles had put five runs on the board, and while only one was charged as earned, Cole’s stellar outing was ruined.

I feel like I keep saying this, but Clint Frazier once again provided the only damage for the Yankees offense. Frazier launched an opposite field home run in the eighth to break up the shutout. He stayed on a 2-0 fastball on the outer half, swatting the ball 100.3 mph, 347 feet over the right field scoreboard.

Gleyber Torres also had a nice day back, with a double and a walk. My fellow writer Josh noted something early on that I thought was pretty neat. Today, we got to see Torres and Frazier bat 3-4 in the lineup. It may have been four years coming, but I bet the Yankees had visions of that sort of scenario when the fateful trades were made back in 2016.

Another positive one could draw from this game is that the Yankees did not need to extend their bullpen, as Miguel Yajure came in to pitch the final two innings. Aside from surrendering Stewart’s second home run of the game, Yajure proved he can get outs and eat innings at the major-league level. This will come as a welcome development for the Yankees, given the current state of the bullpen.

The loss means the Yankees remain tied with Blue Jays. This had better be a wake-up call, as the games only grow in importance from here. After tomorrow’s series finale, the Yankees have three games on the road against the Blue Jays, who will have the added motivation of opening a division lead over New York. If the Yankees aren’t careful, they could find themselves scrambling for the final two playoff spots down the stretch. Get it together!