They may have forgotten what it feels like to do so, but the Yankees won a series tonight. After taking the first two games of this four-game set in Detroit, the Yankees were in strong position to run their winning streak to three, with Gerrit Cole on the mound looking to solidify his Cy Young case. They did just that, taking their first series victory since a sweep of the Royals on July 23.
The Yankees led wire-to-wire, manufacturing a run right off the bat. With two down and none out in the first, Gleyber Torres worked a walk off opener Brendan White. Torres proceeded to steal second, then scored on a clean single to right from Giancarlo Stanton. Those kinds of runs, seemingly plucked out of nowhere, are always satisfying to see come home.
But the rally wasn’t done there. White plunked Anthony Volpe, then served a single to Harrison Bader. Everson Periera was also hit by a pitch to force in a run before AJ Hinch finally went to his bullpen.
Lefty Joey Wentz was able to strand the bases loaded there, but the Yankees held his feet to the fire too. With one out in the second, DJ LeMahieu took Wentz deep to left for his 13th of the year:
In the third, Volpe yanked a ball down the left field line for a double, swiped third, then scored on an Everson Pereira single, giving Pereira the first multi-RBI game of his career. Pereira also swiped second for his first MLB stolen base, though he would be stranded there with the Yankees ahead 4-0.
The Tigers were able to get to Cole in their half of the third. Jake Rogers got all over a Cole fastball on the outside corner and drove it out to right to cut the lead to 4-1. But the Yankees came right back in the fourth, first with Gleyber Torres driving an opposite field solo shot:
Three straight games with a bomb for Gleyber Torres! pic.twitter.com/MVJ0ElMYmX— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) August 30, 2023
And then, on the very next pitch, Giancarlo Stanton got in on the fun, crushing a fastball Wentz left over the plate 425 feet to right-center:
That gives Torres 23 dingers on the year and a homer in three straight games, the Yankees back-to-back homers in three of their last four games, and Stanton 20 homers on the year and 398 homers for his career. An eventful back-to-back, and a positive sign for both hitters. Torres in particular is completely locked in, working good at-bats and, most importantly, driving the ball with authority.
Given a comfortable lead, Cole was mostly in control, though far from his best. He totaled just nine whiffs on the night, a total he’s failed to reach only four times in the 60 starts he’s made this year and last. His fastball command seemed shaky early on, with the righty yanking the occasional fastball off the plate, and leaving a few middle-middle. One particular heater he left right down Broadway was in the sixth inning to Spencer Torkelson, who touched it up for a solo shot and the Tigers’ second run of the night.
Yet even though he didn’t dominate, on an unseasonably cool night in Detroit that saw him run one of his lowest average fastball velocities on the year, Cole was never really threatened. The two dingers were the extent of the Tigers’ damage against him, and Cole was hardly ever in a jam. He still struck out seven, and exited having allowed four hits and two runs over six. In all, it was something of an expected result when you match a Cy Young favorite with one of circuit’s weaker lineups.
After an excellent first half of the ballgame, the Yankee lineup quieted down. Oswald Peraza was robbed of an extra-base hit in the fifth by a great catch from Park Meadows, but after that, there wasn’t much hard contact from the Bombers until Torres smoked a double in the ninth to continue his magnificent month of August.
It was no matter. Ian Hamilton relieved Cole and bounced back from his awful outing this past weekend. In fact, he turned in one of his best performances of the year, navigating three scoreless inning to earn the save. It was just his second career save, and the third time he’d ever pitched as many as three innings. Hamilton struck out five, and had the Tigers flailing helplessly at his “slambio”:
Ian Hamilton, White Castle Special. pic.twitter.com/kYgwOdmoRW— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 31, 2023
It may have taken over a month, but after ten straight series losses or draws, the Yankees at last have a series victory. In terms of the playoff race, it’s too little too late, with the win only pulling them back to 65-68. But it still feels good, if a little frustrating, to see the team perform the way they were meant to, with quality starting pitching and enough dingers to clear the way to straightforward wins. They’ll be back at it tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 EST, with Clarke Schmidt trying to pitch New York to a four-game sweep.