While he hasn’t been bad this year, Gerrit Cole also hasn’t exactly been what the Yankees and fans have been hoping for in 2022. He’s been a bit homer prone, and there was even a legitimate argument that Nestor Cortes should’ve started Game 1 of the ALDS over him. Considering the taste in everyone’s mouths from his start in the AL Wild Card Game last year, it wasn’t crazy to suggest. The idea of that would’ve unthinkable when the Yankees signed him back in December 2019.
In the end, the Yankees did decide to go with Cole in the series opener against the Guardians, and it worked out perfectly. Cole would go 6.1 innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out eight. Even beyond just wanting a good outing from Cole in general, the Yankees would’ve also been hoping that he could go decently long into the game, considering the situation with the bullpen and the injuries that they’re facing. Cole did just that, helping the Yankees win 4-1 over Cleveland and open up a 1-0 lead in the ALDS.
Gerrit Cole, Filthy Knuckle Curves.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 12, 2022
7th and 8th Ks. pic.twitter.com/DkziZ37rHK
After an Isiah Kiner-Falefa error extended the first inning, the only real trouble that Cole ran into all came in the third. That was where the lone run he allowed came, as Steven Kwan, naturally, homered to open the game’s scoring. (Even in an otherwise good game, he still allowed a home run.) After that, with just one out in the inning, Cleveland loaded the bases on a hit by pitch, a José Ramírez double, and a very weird fielder’s choice that the Yankees slightly messed up.
Oftentimes this season, those events going against Cole would seemingly fluster him and lead to a crooked number for the other team. This time, he just went back to work and escaped the inning, even bouncing back after not getting a call on a strike that should’ve ended the inning. Getting out of the inning with just the one run on the board allowed the Yankees to even the score in the bottom half of the third, take the lead a couple innings later, and never look back from there.
Cole’s day ended after Kiner-Falefa’s jumping effort couldn’t corral a Myles Straw single for what should’ve been the second out of the seventh. At that point, Aaron Boone decided to go to the bullpen and not test Cole against the top of the order again. The Yankees’ bullpen then combined to not only keep that run off the board, but finished off the last six outs to get the series off to the perfect start.
Running him close for player of the game was Anthony Rizzo, who hit a two-run home run and had some nice defensive plays.
When the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to the big money deal in December 2019, Game 1 of a playoff series was the exact type of game they had in mind. Last night, Cole had the type of performance we were all hoping for.