TAMPA, Fla. — After Gerrit Cole's electric debut Monday night, it had been mostly downhill for Yankees fans in the news department.
There was Tuesday’s bombshell that Luis Severino would miss the season because of Tommy John surgery, followed on Wednesday by news of Giancarlo Stanton’s Grade 1 right calf strain followed by Saturday’s disclosure that Aaron Judge’s balky right shoulder requires additional testing.
But Cole provided some welcome positivity Saturday afternoon. The Yankees' new ace made it two straight standout starts, allowing two hits and striking out two in 2 2/3 innings in the Yankees' 8-2 victory over the Tigers at Steinbrenner Field.
“I thought the command was better today,” said Cole, who threw 30 pitches (20 strikes). “[I was] able to throw the ball down [in the strike zone] when we wanted to and up when we wanted to. I threw one good changeup, a couple soft-serve changes that were non-competitive, but the slider was sharp, [it was] in and out of the zone and the curveball was good. Played with the velo on it a little bit and I had good command of it.”
Cole will make his next start Thursday in Lakeland against the Tigers and is lined up to start Opening Day (March 26) in Baltimore against the Orioles.
He said he’s been pleased with the chemistry that’s developed between him and Gary Sanchez, who caught Cole on Monday and has caught most of his side sessions.
“We had a good routine today,” said Cole, who signed a record nine-year, $324 million free-agent contract in the offseason. “Gary and I before the game [talked about] getting settled in with the analytics and a whole new routine of how it's going to flow here, so I was more comfortable with that today . . . We were on the same page today, so that's good. I mean, it's still like the second time he's caught me in a game, so it’s moving along nicely.”
Cole peaked at 98 mph with his fastball, as he did Monday night. He retired leadoff man Danny Woodrow on the first pitch he threw, a 95-mph fastball that produced a soft fly ball to Miguel Andujar in left. Victor Reyes flared a 98-mph fastball to left for a single, but Jeimer Candelario popped an off-speed pitch to short and Cole struck out Brandon Dixon swinging at a 96-mph fastball to end a 10-pitch inning in which he threw eight strikes.
Cole’s 30th and final pitch was a slider that Woodrow badly whiffed on for the second out of the third inning.
“Another really good day of work for him,” Aaron Boone said.
Clint Frazier, who with the injury to Giancarlo Stanton perhaps has an avenue to make the club out of camp, went 1-for-3 with a double in the Yankees' 5-2 split-squad victory over the Red Sox in Fort Myers. Frazier is 3-for-10 (two doubles and a homer) in five games.
Luis Cessa followed Cole to the mound and struck out three of the four hitters he faced. Cessa has struck out five and allowed one hit in 3 2/3 innings . . . Adam Ottavino struck out two and walked one in one scoreless inning in his 2020 debut . . . Boone said closer Aroldis Chapman will make his debut Wednesday at home against the Phillies.