Gerrit Cole’s first three starts of the season were not what you would hope for from your ace. He struggled to some degree in all of them, culminating last time out, when he put in arguably one of the worst performances of his career.
While it was too early to make any sort of judgements about Cole or his season, he really could’ve used a good start on Sunday against the Guardians. Well, the four-time All-Star got it. Cole allowed no runs on four hits and a walk and struck out nine in 6.2 innings in a really good effort against Cleveland.
Not that they needed that many runs with Cole on the mound, but the Yankees’ offense also had arguably their best day of the season. Nine of the 11 Yankees to step to the plate recorded a hit, as they put up 13 as a team. Eight of the hits went for extra bases, helping the Yankees cruise to a 10-2 win and a sweep of the Guardians.
After Cole put in probably his best first inning of the season, the Yankees offense struck pretty quickly in the bottom half of the frame. With one out and Aaron Judge on second after a double, Anthony Rizzo put a home run over the wall in right, giving the Yankees an early lead.
The next inning, they added more, albeit fortuitously. Isiah Kiner-Falefa was on after a bloop single when DJ LeMahieu stepped in with two outs. He hit a liner to left that probably should’ve been caught, but Cleveland’s Oscar Mercado misplayed it, allowing Kiner-Falefa to race all the way around from first and extend the lead.
Even more runs awaited thanks to some help from Cleveland’s defense in the third. To start the inning, the Yankees loaded the bases thanks to a Rizzo double, a Josh Donaldson hit by pitch, and a Gleyber Torres walk. Aaron Hicks then hit a shallow pop up that should’ve been caught by someone. However instead, a couple fielders let it fall in between them. They managed to get Torres out at second for a force out after he had retreated, but Rizzo scored on the mess of a play.
Joey Gallo stepped to the plate next. While he had somewhat put things together for a solid game yesterday, he showed some even better signs today, doubling to right for his first RBI of the season. A Kiner-Falefa sacrifice fly added one more run to put a bow on the big inning.
As Cole continued motoring along, the Yankees added more thanks to LeMahieu. With Jose Trevino on after a walk, LeMahieu homered for his third hit of the day.
Cole came back out for the seventh and got two quick outs before allowing a single to Owen Miller, which would be the end of his day. Wandy Peralta came in and finished off the inning, keeping Cleveland off the board
Cole’s ERA dropped over two runs in those 6.2 innings, settling at an even 4.00. While you’d still hope for better from him, that figure dropping so quickly demonstrates just how small a sample three starts are.
The Yankees went to their bench for the the late innings, but even they got in on the action. In the bottom of the eighth, Marwin Gonzalez singled to record his first hit as a Yankees when he pinch-hit for LeMahieu. Tim Locastro then went up as a pinch-hitter for Judge and did his best impression of the man he replaced. Locastro homered to get the Yankees to double-digit runs for the game.
Peralta also threw a scoreless eighth before turning it over to Ron Marinaccio for the ninth. The rookie quickly got two outs, but then ran into some trouble, allowing the Guardians to get on the board before the game ended. He eventually finished things off to seal the win and the sweep.
While you can hardly say that the issues that have plagued the Yankees’ so-so start are totally resolved, Sunday’s win over Cleveland was nothing but good signs. They’ll get to rest on their laurels during an off-day tomorrow before reconvening for a three-game set at home against the Orioles. Luis Severino’s first pitch should come at 7:05pm ET.