When you’re the guy with the $324 million dollar right arm, you’re going to be the guy called on in the biggest moments of the season. Gerrit Cole had a weird 2022, with his regular season performance not what most fans were expecting, but his postseason play spoke for itself. After a 6.1, 1 ER performance delivered a Game 1 win, Cole took the bump in Cleveland in a must-win game.
Final Score: Yankees 4, Guardians 2
Game MVP: Gerrit Cole
The game before was THAT game, where the Guardians dipped and doddled their way to a walk-off win and annoying 2-1 series lead. You’d be forgiven for thinking the Yankees were behind the eight ball, despite being a much more talented team than the Guardians.
This night would be different, and the Yankees showed that early. Leadoff man Gleyber Torres singled in the game’s first plate appearance, before swiping second. Anthony Rizzo brought him in with a liner up the middle, and the Yankees were up 1-0 before Cole left the dugout. It was probably too much to expect the club’s ace to strike out the side, given how tough it is to make the Guardians’ lineup whiff, but Cole struck out two of the first three hitters he faced anyway.
In the top of the second, the legend of Harrison Bader grew:
This was Bader’s third long ball of the series, and the first to come with a man on base. Offense, non-Aaron-Judge division, was a problem for the Yankees virtually the entire second half, and Bader’s power output in the postseason was as surprising as it was vital. The biggest hit of the game by WPA staked Cole to a 3-0 lead after he’d thrown just 12 pitches, and it was all Gerrit from there.
Eight strikeouts against a single walk, two earned runs allowed with one coming on a play that only the Guardians could make:
This was also the game where Josh Naylor rocked a baby while on his home run trot, a celebration that works well as long as you actually win the game and the series. Cole remarked that the gesture was “cute, I guess” in the postgame presser, and in making the final out of the series a game later, Oswaldo Cabrera mirrored the celebration. I’m all for guys adding some spice to the game, but mockery is often the price of losing.
Cole ended up throwing 110 pitches on the night, his final one being some 98mph cheddar to fan Will Brennan and end the seventh:
Clay Holmes and Wandy Peralta took over from there, but it was another night in October where Cole stood tall. If you care about pitcher wins, he became just the third active chucker with 10 postseason victories, joining Clayton Kershaw and former teammate Justin Verlander. The Yankees wrapped up the series with a tidy Game 5 win, and although the season ended pretty miserably, the back-to-back wins to dust off the Guardians was a high point of the year — and Gerrit Cole’s $324 million arm was a big part of it.