clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yankees 7, Rays 2: Cole, Stanton stop the bleeding

A much-needed win came in this series finale.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Wander Franco hit the ninth pitch of the game into the right field seats, and by the time most fans had sat down, the Yankees were in a 2-0 hole. With how this team has played the past few weeks, I wouldn’t have blamed you if you got up and did something else with your evening. Gerrit Cole, the ace of the staff, was tagged early and this lineup does not have a reputation for being comeback kids. If you stuck around, though, you got your money’s worth. The Yankees woke up after a sleepy first two innings, clubbed Shane McClanahan around, and salvaged the final game of this series 7-2.

I’m sure Cole has felt a lot of pressure to be perfect this season, because the offense has been so putrid and so rare to pick up a starter after a mistake. Cole was cold-blooded after the Franco homer and didn’t allow a single run for the rest of his seven-inning start. It must have been his lucky day, too, because the lineup rewarded him with a huge third inning:

Harrison Bader kicked things off with a double to open the frame, before Anthony Volpe smacked his 14th career home run to knot the game at two.

Not only has the club had problems scoring overall, they’ve had problems keeping pressure on when they do score. They might run into a homer here or there but there’s been a dearth of big innings. Both Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Gleyber Torres kept up the heat with singles, before Giancarlo Stanton added the cathartic blow:

For the second time this year, Shane McClanahan was done after four innings against the Yanks. He did take advantage of a pretty wide zone, dominating the ... let’s call it the outside edge of the zone, but once mistakes creeped back over the plate, the Yankees were waiting.

After those first two men reached base, Cole struck out a third of the 25 men he faced through the seventh inning, allowing just three other hits and a single walk. It took him 22 pitches to navigate the first, and a very nice 69 to work through the remaining six. It’s his 18th start this season surrendering two or fewer runs, which leads MLB. He is quite simply the best pitcher in baseball right now.

Meanwhile, like 2022 Josh, the Rays were full of disrespect for one Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Two different times the Rays tried to extend a single on a ball to left field, only to have both runners gunned down and neither were really that close. IKF actually boasts 88th percentile arm strength among outfielders, despite no assists before today, and the aggression the Rays showed netted the Yankees two extra outs. He may not be a “real” outfielder, but teams should take extra note of balls hit into the left-field corner.

And to put a bow on a game full of nice things, the Yankees actually added some tack-on runs. In the seventh, with two men on, Stanton notched his fourth RBI of the game, bringing around IKF on a run-scoring single. With Gleyber at third and pinch-runner Greg Allen at first, Allen’s steal of second led to a flub by Franco, and Torres scampered home for the seventh run of the game. It went down as a steal of home for Torres.

One win won’t change how any of us feel about this team, but with AL rivals losing tonight, the Yankees needed to stop the bleeding. That’s exactly what the job of an ace is, and Cole came through — but it was really, really nice to see the lineup reward great pitching, which has come so few and far between this year. Hopefully, the Yankees can keep this vibe going through tomorrow, where they kick off a series with the Houston Astros. No-hit nemesis Cristian Javier takes the mound against New York’s Clarke Schmidt with first pitch at 7:15pm ET on Fox.

Box Score