Minutes after extending his career-best winning streak to 18 games last Wednesday night in Baltimore, Gerrit Cole laughed when asked about Carl Hubbell’s record of 24 straight.
“Oh my God, I don’t know. We’ll see,” he said. “We’ve got to win 19 before we win 20, I guess, right? Just try to bounce back.”
Cole bounced back just fine and, not surprisingly, No. 19 followed.
Though lacking his typical dominant swing-and-miss stuff, Cole, backed by three home runs, still had plenty to work with Monday night in his six solid innings in a 6-3 victory over the Phillies at the Stadium.
Cole is 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA. “What he’s showing you right now is just how good a pitcher he is,'' Aaron Boone said. "He’s just finding his way a little bit, but I’m excited where he’s at.”
It was the Yankees' seventh straight victory. For the third time in nine Yankees games, the night included a rain delay, this one starting at 9:08 p.m. and lasting 1 hour, 7 minutes.
Cole, a lifelong Yankees fan at long last making his Stadium debut, allowed one run, five hits and a walk. He has not lost since May 22, 2019, and came in 18-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his previous 24 starts.
“I was thinking about the things I can control,” Cole said of taking the mound for his home debut in front of no fans. “It was special to put on the uniform, special to warm up in that bullpen, special to take the field from that side of the field . . . You don’t dream of pitching in a stadium with no fans, but I tried to savor the things I enjoyed and hopefully we’ll have fans sooner rather than later.”
DJ LeMahieu led off the first with an opposite-field homer to rightfield on Phillies righthander Jake Arrieta's sixth pitch of the game. That gave the Yankees at least one home run in each of their nine games. Of the Yankees’ 46 runs scored to that point, 33 of them had come via the home run, and those totals soon would increase.
The lone run Cole allowed came on Jay Bruce’s homer into the Yankees' bullpen in right-center to lead off the third, but all that did was tie the score.
“I think there’s room for improvement across the board,” Cole said of not yet having his best stuff throughout an outing. “[But] with what we’ve had every time out, we’ve done a good job. Whatever you’ve got that day is what you’ve got, and you’ve got to figure it out, and we’ve been doing a good job of that.”
Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the third by driving a rare opposite-field homer to left to make it 2-1. With two outs, Aaron Judge yanked a double down the leftfield line and scored on Aaron Hicks’ sliced RBI single to left to make it 3-1.
Gio Urshela’s three-run homer into the Phillies' bullpen in the sixth off righty Deolis Guerra made it 6-1.
The Yankees (8-1) lifted their MLB-leading home run total to 20 and made it seven straight games in which they hit multiple homers. Judge recorded two hits but saw his streak of games with at least one homer end at five.
After the rain delay, the Phillies managed to scratch out a run against rookie righty Brooks Kriske, who walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh, but Chad Green came in and struck out two to keep it 6-2. Luis Avilan allowed a run in the eighth to make it 6-3 and Zack Britton earned his fourth save in as many chances with a scoreless ninth.
The Phillies (1-3) competed and did not give away at-bats but still spent much of the night looking like a team that had not played since July 26, the result of the COVID-19 outbreak on the Marlins and the events that followed.
Said Boone, "[They] were able to put together some decent at-bats, but then you look up and it’s just another really strong outing by our ace.”