The Yankees really needed Gerrit Cole to be good on Sunday. They were facing one of the American League’s best starting pitchers in the early going in Pablo López. They were down one of their top offensive producers, having lost Giancarlo Stanton to the injured list prior to the game. They were a loss away from dropping a four-game series to a Minnesota Twins team they have dominated for the last two decades.
When it was all over, Cole had delivered three words rarely used together in modern baseball: complete-game shutout. It was the Yankees’ first since Cole also turned the trick during his one-hit mastery in Houston on July 10, 2021.
A gem. That’s another way to describe the game Cole pitched in a 2-0 victory on Sunday. He didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning and only allowed two on the day. He passed Whitey Ford on the all-time strikeout list on his way to 10 K’s in the game (he now sits 38 shy of 2,000). He had fastball command and pounded the strike zone, issuing only one walk this afternoon, and threw 109 pitches in the complete game.
Cole is the Yankees’ ace, and this is how you want your ace to pitch.
For the Twins, López was no slouch. His pitch mix was very effective, working all quadrants of the strike zone and having success with four-seam fastballs up at 95 and sinkers and changeups down. He struck out seven in six innings, allowing seven hits and a walk along the way.
Essentially, DJ LeMahieu was the Yankees’ offense. In the bottom of the third, Aaron Judge got things started with a one-out walk. Anthony Rizzo followed and was apparently clipped on the toe by a breaking ball from López. The Twins challenged, and replay seemed to indicate they had reason to challenge, but there was not sufficient evidence to overturn the call. With runners on first and second, Gleyber Torres struck out on three pitches, leaving it up to LeMahieu with two outs.
The runners took off on an 0-1 sinker, and LeMahieu lined it into right field for a base hit.
Judge scored easily to make it 1-0 Yankees.
LeMahieu then continued his productive afternoon by leading off the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot to the short porch in right.
I don't think you needed data to tell you that this was a 1/30 short porch special, but, it was pic.twitter.com/ZztnNEeTDy— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) April 16, 2023
It would not have been a home run anywhere else in the league, but the game was at Yankee Stadium today, and both teams are allowed to hit the ball there (as Carlos Correa enjoyed the other day).
Meanwhile, Cole was relentless and never let the Twins’ offense even sniff a real rally. After Michael A. Taylor hit a single with one out in the sixth, the righty ace set down the final 11 batters in a row, retiring the Bronx nemesis Correa twice in the process. The shortstop flew out to right to clinch Cole’s masterpiece.
The Yankees came away with a series split, as they successfully avoided losing their first of 2023 with back-to-back wins. They can enjoy the offday tomorrow before opening a three-game set against Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and the Los Angeles Angels at home Tuesday night.