ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Gerrit Cole got denied a piece of history. Again.
But most significant to the righthander and to the Yankees, they still picked up the win.
Cole, who had a perfect game bid broken up with two outs in the seventh inning June 3 against the Tigers, took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Monday night against the Rays.
That went by the wayside when Isaac Paredes led off the inning with a well-struck bouncer back up the middle for a hit. Paredes scored later in the inning with Clay Holmes on the mound to get the Rays on the board and the closer allowed his first run in 31 2/3 innings later in the frame as Tampa Bay tied it.
But Aaron Hicks’ RBI triple in the ninth enabled the Yankees to retake the lead and a rickety Wandy Peralta overcame a walk and throwing error by DJ LeMahieu to close it out in the bottom half to give them a 4-2 victory in front of 16,504 at Tropicana Field.
“I thought I had good stuff. I’ve never thrown a no-hitter so I can’t tell you what no-hit stuff looks like,” Cole said with a smile.
Does Cole, already with a fairly stacked resume, feel a no-hitter is something missing from it?
“I’ve had a few good nights before [when it was close],” said Cole, who featured a slider Aaron Boone categorized as “special” on this night. “Honestly, in this situation I’m just glad we got the win.”
Cole, who by the middle innings seemed well on his way to pitching the 12th regular-season no-hitter in franchise history – and second in two years (Corey Kluber threw one May 19, 2021 against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas) – entered the eighth protecting a 2-0 lead at 103 pitches, having allowed few hard-hit balls.
But Paredes bounced a 0-and-1 slider over the second base bag and, after Josh Lowe sent centerfielder Aaron Judge running to the base of the wall with a long flyout, Aaron Boone brought on Holmes, who had not been scored on in his previous 29 appearances, a club record. But pinch hitter Francisco Mejia yanked a double down the rightfield line to put runners at second and third and Yandy Diaz’s slow groundout to Holmes allowed Paredes to score to make it 2-1. Manuel Margot then chopped one to the left of the mound where Holmes had no play, the infield single bringing in Mejia to tie it at 2.
Cole allowed one run, one hit and three walks over 7 1/3 innings in which he struck out 12, lowering his ERA to 3.14 from 3.33.
“I was thinking about it (the no-hitter) but it’s a tight game, high pitch count,” Cole said. “A few of those walks kind of hurt the pitch count a little bit but we just kept making pretty good pitches and got a couple innings where we had efficient outs.”
The Yankees (50-17), the majors’ first team to reach 50 wins, regained the advantage in the ninth against righthander Jason Adam.
Josh Donaldson lasered a one-out single to left and Hicks, suddenly resurgent of late, improved to 12 for his last 37 (.324) by rifling a 2-and-2 changeup off the top of the wall in right. Donaldson came around from first to make it 3-2. Margot, the rightfielder, crashed hard into the wall and landed awkwardly, staying on the ground for a few minutes before eventually being carted off with a knee injury. Jose Trevino’s sacrifice fly made it 4-2.
Tampa lefty Shane McClanahan came in 7-3 with a 1.84 ERA, one of the losses coming five days before at the Stadium, when he allowed four runs (one earned) and three hits over six innings of a 4-3 loss. On Monday McClanahan was brilliant other than the first inning, when he allowed Anthony Rizzo’s 19th homer of the season that gave Cole a 1-0 lead.
Still, the night was mostly about Cole and a no-hitter most in the clubhouse feel is a matter of time in coming.
“I think he’ll get it one day,” Holmes said. “He was close tonight. Hate that we gave up a run to get him off the hook there for a win, but he definitely deserved a bit of accomplishment for what he did tonight.”