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Yankees 8, Athletics 2: Lucky number thirteen and counting

Cole tallies his 200th strikeout, offense mashes many taters.

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Yankees entered tonight’s contest on their longest winning streak since 1961. Every night it’s a different contributor, whether that be dominant starting pitcher, a lockdown bullpen, or offensive contributions up and down the lineup. It turns out they got all three tonight as they easily handled the Athletics 8-2 for their thirteenth win in a row.

There was drama even before the first pitch. Umpires collected around the pitcher’s mound to inspect Sean Manaea’s glove, evoking images of Caleb Smith’s ejection for having “suspicious spots” on his glove. Oakland’s broadcast team speculated that the glove was too light in color, and indeed moments later a player emerged from the A’s dugout with a darker colored glove.

Bizarre to be sure, with the specter that Manaea could get tossed before throwing a pitch, but all was resolved and the game began. After recording two quick outs, Manaea surrendered back-to-back singles to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both balls were tattooed through the outfield, each coming off the bat in excess of 104 mph. They would advance no farther, as Joey Gallo struck out to strand the pair.

Both pitchers settled into a groove following the wonky opening to the game, retiring 15 of the next 19 batters faced combined. Gerrit Cole had his electric velocity from the jump, firing several triple digit fastballs. Manaea was just as effective, with Yankees batters finding it particularly difficult to square up his sinker despite its pedestrian velocity and multiple missed locations in the zone.

Difficult to square up, that is, until Stanton stepped into the box for his second plate appearance. Stanton demolished an 0-1 elevated fastball into the second deck in left-center. The ball exploded off his bat at 112.1 mph and soared 472 feet into the Oakland air — the longest home run a Yankee has ever hit at the Coliseum as well as the longest homer hit by a Yankee this season. It also gives him a four-game home run streak.

I have never seen a ball hit up there. Tyler Wade’s reaction says it all.

The fireworks weren’t over. Luke Voit decided to get in on the fun the very next at-bat. He crushed a middle-middle 2-0 sinker for a no-doubter just right of dead center. His blast ONLY reached 110.2 mph and 437 feet, but we’ll give him a pass since it’s rather hard to emulate Stanton. Joking aside, the solo shot continues Voit’s torrid stretch since returning from the injured list. To quote my esteemed colleague Josh: “PUT VOIT IN THE LINEUP!”

Cole strolled to the mound with a two-run cushion, but the bottom of the fourth wasn’t quite smooth sailing. He surrendered a one-out double to Josh Harrison followed by a walk to Matt Chapman to put runners on first and second. This is Gerrit Cole we’re talking about though, and he struck out the next two batters to end the threat and give him three punchouts in the inning.

The Yankees opened the top of the fifth with back-to-back singles from Kyle Higashioka and DJ LeMahieu. Manaea struck out Rizzo, appearing to right the ship, but the reprieve was only temporary. Judge worked a full count before crushing an elevated changeup for a three-run bomb to left-center.

Courtesy of Statcast

Really good bit of hitting to pull this pitch with power. 99.8 mph and 413 feet later, the Yankees had a 5-0 lead.

Cole worked himself into another jam in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases on singles from Elvis Andrus and Tony Kemp and a walk to Matt Olson. He struck out Jed Lowrie on an overpowering elevated 99 mph heater, but gave us a scare by surrendering a line drive on a mistake changeup to Harrison. Have no fear said Gio Urshela, as he made a leaping grab to leave the bases juiced — one of a handful of sparkling defensive plays by the Yankees’ third baseman in his second game back from a hamstring ailment.

Turns out Cole was just saving his best stuff for his final inning of work. He struck out the side, with the final out giving him an even 200 strikeouts on the year. It was a laborious outing most of the way for Cole, with his fastball and slider command abandoning him at times. That said, it’s a nice luxury to say your ace had an off-night in a start where he goes six scoreless innings with six hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts on 104 pitches.

Joely Rodríguez entered for the bottom of the seventh. He did not pitch well. He issued a one-out walk to Chad Pinder followed by a single to Marte. Olson then bounced a single though the left side to plate Pinder. Joey Gallo’s throw was well wide of home plate, which was exacerbated by Rodríguez not backing up home, allowing Marte to score all the way from first. The Yankees’ lead was reduced to 5-2 and Rodríguez’s night was over. Chad Green came on to mop up the mess, and that’s exactly what he did. Despite walking Lowrie, he got Harrison to ground into an inning-ending double play to stomp out the rally.

Green came back out for the bottom of the eighth and pitched the best frame we’ve seen from him in quite some time. He struck out the side getting whiffs with both the four-seamer and the curveball. The Yankees have to be encouraged by the command Green displayed over the hook, considering how much the pitch has bedeviled him in recent outings.

After a quiet three innings with little offensive output, the Yankees added three much-welcomed insurance runs in the ninth. Andrew Velazquez led off with a stinging 109.2 mph double to centerfield. Fun fact: that’s harder than any ball Tyler Wade has hit in his career! Higashioka followed it up with a two-run tater to right-center that easily cleared the double-height fence. The home run travelled 106.4 mph, 407 feet to give the Yankees a 7-2 lead

The Bombers weren’t finished. LeMahieu, Rizzo, and Judge blistered three straight singles, with Judge scoring DJ from second to make it 8-2 Yankees. Tons of hard contact in the inning, you love to see it!

Courtesy of Statcast

Lucas Luetge secured the final three outs as the Yankees took this one, 8-2, to guarantee at least a series split. But that’s not the mindset of the team on this winning streak. They expect to win every contest, and playing the way they are, it’s hard to bet against them.

They’ll look for a series win tomorrow afternoon as Néstor Cortes Jr. takes on Frankie Montas. First pitch is scheduled for 4:07 pm ET, so we hope you’ll join us in the game thread.

Box Score