MINNEAPOLIS — Gerrit Cole’s offense did the retaliating for him.
And in the end, the narrative of fireworks erupting between Cole vs. Josh Donaldson never materialized as this became obvious fairly quickly: Cole, regardless of what was or wasn’t on his fingers when it comes to sticky substances Wednesday night, is still a very good pitcher.
And the Twins, still a very bad team, had no chance against him or the Yankees.
They never do.
Thus, the 9-6 victory by the Yankees, who got six solid innings from Cole and four homers overall — two from Giancarlo Stanton and one each from Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar — at Target Field was a completely predictable result on another humid night.
"With all the distractions going on around him, he went out there and showed you who he was," Aaron Boone said of Cole, who allowed two runs- both on solo homers — and five hits over six innings in improving to 7-3 with a 2.31 ERA.
"I just tried to treat it like every other game, keep my blinders on," Cole said. "As players we have to do our best to stay focused and do our job."
Donaldson, who implicated Cole last week and again before Wednesday’s game as being among the many pitchers in the sport using illegal substances for extra movement (spin rate) on their pitches, went 0-for-3 against Cole, striking out in his first two at-bats.
Cole mostly deferred on expressing his feeling on facing Donaldson, though he did allow of his fastball hitting triple digits during the former AL MVP’s first at-bat that it "probably [was] a bit of the moment" that helped amp him up.
Cole, during a forgettable news conference the day before, made the innuendo worse in a non-answer when asked directly if he had ever used Spider Tack, a popular substance among some pitchers.
"I don’t quite know how to answer that, to be honest," he said Tuesday, which earned him plenty of scorn from inside and outside non-Yankees’ clubhouses in the game.
After Wednesday’s game, Cole said: "I hesitated yesterday on the specificity of the question because I just don't think this is the forum to answer these kind of things."
The topic, of course, isn’t going anywhere, as evidenced by Judge, who hit his 15th homer in the first to give Cole a 1-0 lead, saying afterward, "I feel like 95% of guys I face in the league, something’s going on" when it comes to the application of those substances.
Meanwhile, Wednesday night marked the first time this season the Yankees’ offense scored eight or more runs back-to-back games. That they achieved it against the Twins was also utterly predictable. The Yankees (33-29) improved to 105-37 against Minnesota (24-37) since 2002, including the postseason.
Cole struck out nine and did not walk a batter, giving him 103 strikeouts compared to 11 walks in 81 2/3 total innings.
His counterpart, righthander Rodney Dobnak, came in 1-5 with a 6.19 ERA and, continuing with the predictable nature of the evening, was hammered for eight runs and 11 hits over 4 2/3 unsightly innings. He allowed all four of the Yankees’ homers.
Stanton had three of the Yankees' 15 hits, including a three-run homer in the third that made it 5-0 and a two-run shot in the fifth that made it 7-1. Andujar’s homer in the fifth made it 8-1. Miguel Sano’s homer leading off the bottom half made it 8-2 and Andujar’s sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 9-2. Brooks Kriske allowed four runs in the ninth to make the game seem far more competitive than it was.
"It’s always huge, it’s always big for me to do that," said Stanton, 4 of 28 entering the night since coming back from the IL May 28. "A little bit better after a long drought. Feels good. Got to keep it going."