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ALDS Game 4 Player of the Game: Gerrit Cole

The Yankees’ ace is making a statement case in this postseason.

Division Series - New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians - Game Four Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

This year’s ALDS opened with a standout performance from Gerrit Cole, ridding some of his demons after a terrible 2021 postseason performance in the Wild Card Game and a so-so 2022 regular season. On Sunday night, Cole one-upped his outing from the start of the series and preserved the Yankees’ season for at least one more day.

The Yankees needed some length out of their starters on top of effectiveness facing the prospect of playing four straight playoff games, and Cole delivered on both ends. He tossed seven innings and emptied the tank to do so, throwing 110 pitches in the process. The results were solid as well, as he allowed two runs on six hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts. He did get dinged for a solo home run by Josh Naylor, who claimed parenthood over him as he rounded the bases, but otherwise the Guardians struggled to make good contact against the Yankees’ ace. We’ve seen in the past how an event like that would start the beginning of the end for Cole’s starts, but this time he brushed right past it and continued to barrel through Cleveland’s lineup.

When the night was drawing to a close, Cole emphatically ended his outing. He faced a pinch-hitter in Will Brennan with two outs and a runner in scoring position in the seventh inning looking to hold onto a two-run lead, and he did this to him:

Despite the emotional outburst and the high pitch count, there was even the potential that Cole could have gone back out there for the eighth inning. The Yankees didn’t end up doing that, instead calling for Clay Holmes and then Wandy Peralta to close out the final two innings. Still, that’s the workhorse that the Yankees signed to help them get over the top in the postseason, and if they advance to the ALCS and face Houston it’ll be thanks to his outstanding effort in this series.

An honorable mention also goes out to Harrison Bader, who came through again in the clutch for the Yankees with an offensive highlight. Bader slapped a two-run shot into left field in the second inning, scoring the eventual winning runs nice and early. It was Bader’s third homer in the postseason, joining an exclusive list of Yankees center fielders to accomplish that feat in a single postseason: only Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams accompany him. Not bad at all for a guy who was acquired for his elite defense.

The Yankees have a Game 5 to play tonight in the Bronx, and it’s largely thanks to these two standouts. We’ll see if both of them get a chance to play again this year.